The Berger Collection

Cornelius Johnson (1593–1661)
Portrait of a Gentleman, probably James Howell, 1634
Oil on canvas
Signed with initials and dated at lower left, C.J. fecit. / 1634; inscribed at upper left, Cupias quodcunque necesse est
32 x 25 in. (81.28 x 63.5 cm)

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Cornelius Johnson worked in an elegant, somewhat conservative style, with his compositions simple and focused and the details of his sitters’ features and dress closely observed. His portraits were also sensitive to the character of his sitters, as is evident in this work of 1634. It has traditionally been thought to represent James Howell (1594?-1666), who wrote numerous historical and political pamphlets and held diplomatic and administrative posts under Charles I. Johnson portrays his subject as thoughtful and gentle, sober in a black tunic with a white lace ruff.


Sir Godfrey Thomas; by descent; Christie’s, South Kensington, November 12, 1998, lot 9

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