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Cornelius Johnson

Painter, Miniaturist and Portrait painter

1593 in London
1661 in Utrecht

One Work by Cornelius Johnson


Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen, a son of Cornelis Jonson and Jane Le Grand, was born in London on 14 October 1593. His father had fled to England from the occupation of Antwerp by Spanish troops. The surname "Van Ceulen" derived from his grandfather Peter Jansen, who was from Cologne. Jonson is presumed to have received his artistic training in the northern Netherlands. In 1618 he returned to England. His marriage to Elizabeth Beck from Colchester, whose family also had Dutch roots, produced two sons. Cornelis, who was born in 1634, would later become an important pupil. The outbreak of the Civil War in England in 1643 forced the family to return to the Netherlands. There they first settled in Middelburg. In 1646 Jonson was living in Amsterdam, where he painted a large group portrait of the municipal authorities of The Hague. The artist apparently moved frequently, for he created portraits of citizens of various cities. He finally lived in Utrecht, where he was buried on 5 August 1661. His first dated works were done in 1617, but the majority after 1619. Jonson concentrated on portrait painting, producing copies of famous portraits as well. In the case of his copy after a portrait of King Charles I by Daniel Mijtens, he indicated with his signature that he executed the commission as an independent painter and not as a pupil. Jonson was the portraitist of the English upper class - without, however, penetrating the very highest social circles. In addition to miniatures, he preferred painting bust portraits, often backed by painted niches in a trompe-l'oeil manner. Jonson frequently took stylistic inspiration from Daniel Mijtens or, beginning in the 1630s, from Anthony van Dyck. In his Dutch period, he painted primarily half-figure or three-quarter-length portraits that are distinguished by a particular elegance and a precise rendering of the subject.

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