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The Capel Family

1 of 2 portraits of Mary, Duchess of Beaufort

The Capel Family, by Cornelius Johnson, circa 1640 - NPG 4759 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

The Capel Family

by Cornelius Johnson
oil on canvas, circa 1640
63 in. x 102 in. (1600 mm x 2591 mm)
Purchased with help from the Art Fund, 1970
Primary Collection
NPG 4759

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  • Cornelius Johnson (1593-1661), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 138 portraits, Sitter associated with 3 portraits.

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Appropriately, given the horticultural interests of the Capels, the family are pictured here posing in front of their formal garden at Little Hadham. The composition of Johnson's group is influenced by van Dyck's Charles I and Henrietta Maria with their two Eldest Children (Royal Collection, 1632).

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Current affairs

Second Bishops' War. James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, leading the Scottish armies, occupies northeast of England. Defeat at the Battle of Newburn forces impoverished Charles to sign Treaty of Ripon. Long Parliament. Habeas Corpus Act is passed, abolishing the Star Chamber. Impeachment of Royalists, Earl of Strafford and Archbishop Laud.

Art and science

Author, James Howell, writes Dodona's Grove, a historical allegory of events since 1603. A renowned royalist, Howell's anti-parliamentary remarks in the book would later attract accusations from parliamentarians. The last Caroline masque before the outbreak of civil war, Salmacida Spolia by Sir William Davenant, is performed at Whitehall Palace.


Frederick William becomes Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia. The Elector's policy of religious tolerance benefited his state during the religious struggles dominating the Thirty Years' War. The Bay Psalm Book is published, the first book to be printed in British North America.

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