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

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

© National Portrait Gallery, London

  • Larger Image
  • Image zoom
  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

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

by Cornelius Johnson (Cornelius Janssen 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

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

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.

Linked publicationsback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Subjects & Themesback to top

Events of 1636back to top

Current affairs

The third daughter of Charles I, Princess Anne, is born. She dies aged three of natural causes at Richmond Palace.
Severe outbreak of the bubonic plague closes London theatres. They remain almost continuously closed until the end of the year.

Art and science

Canvases by painter, Sir Peter Paul Rubens are installed on the ceiling of the Banqueting House. Commissioned by Charles I, the paintings celebrate the life and wise government of his father, James I.
The favourite portraitist of James I's queen Anne of Denmark, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, dies.


Scottish army officer, Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, is appointed Swedish Field Marshal in Westphalia, and commands forces in a decisive victory over Imperial-Saxon forces at the Battle of Wittstock.
North America's first college, New College, is founded in Massachusetts; two years later, its name would be changed to Harvard.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.