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Although his family were German-Flemish refugees, Johnson himself was born in London. The careful observation and refined handling of his portraits suggest that he may have trained – at least in part – in Holland. This is one of his earliest works.The sitter was the only daughter of Sir Alexander Temple of Etchingham, Sussex. The martlet (a heraldic bird) in her ear-ring is part of the Temple family arms. Susanna’s first husband, Sir Gifford Thornhurst, was to die in 1627. In 1636 she married Sir Martin Lister of Thorpe Arnold, Leicestershire.

May 2007