Unknown man, formerly known as Cornelius Johnson (Jonson or Jonson van Ceulen)

1 portrait

Unknown man, formerly known as Cornelius Johnson (Jonson or Jonson van Ceulen), by Cornelius Johnson (Jonson or Jonson van Ceulen), 1636 - NPG 1887 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Unknown man, formerly known as Cornelius Johnson (Jonson or Jonson van Ceulen)

by Cornelius Johnson (Jonson or Jonson van Ceulen)
oil on canvas, 1636
30 1/4 in. x 24 1/2 in. (768 mm x 622 mm)
Purchased, 1920
Primary Collection
NPG 1887


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This painting was purchased as a self-portrait of English-born artist Cornelius Johnson. However, the sitter's features bear little similarity to authenticated portraits of Johnson.
The sitter is presented simply and without decoration. His sober costume, broad shoulders and pointed beard conform to contemporary ideals of masculinity and fashion. The high quality satin doublet suggests that the sitter was reasonably wealthy. His gesture of pointing towards his chest may be intended to emphasise his virtue, strength of character and self-reliance. Similar gestures are occasionally found in other portraits of writers, artists and successful professional men.

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