Dulwich Picture Gallery I


Cornelis JONSON (van Ceulen) I

London, baptised 14 October 1593–Utrecht, buried 5 August 1661
English-Dutch portrait painter

Cornelis Jonson (Johnson, Janssens) [1] was born in London of Netherlandish parents. His grandfather originally came from Cologne – ‘Ceulen’ in Dutch at the time. He probably trained in Holland; mentioned as possible masters are Jan van Ravesteyn (The Hague; c. 1572–1657) and Michiel van Mierevelt (Delft; 1566–1641).1 After his return to London about 1618 he became one of the leading portrait painters in England before Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) arrived in 1632. In that same year King Charles I (1600–1649) awarded him the title of ‘His Majesty’s servant in the quality of Picture drawer’. In his paintings he often used blue and green backgrounds, unusual at the time; these have frequently deteriorated and faded. He also painted portrait miniatures on copper. After the outbreak of the Civil War he left for Holland in 1643, and stayed there for the rest of his life. For The Hague magistrates he painted a group portrait in 1647 [2].2

Cornelis Jonson could be considered either a Dutch or an English painter.3 Baker thought that because he always signed ‘Johnson’ or ‘Jonson’ and never ‘Janssens’ he saw himself as English.4 However he changed his signature in the course of time. In Holland he first added ‘Londini(s)’, or Londones (from London), to his signature,5 but later, around 1650, he added ‘van Ceulen’ (from Cologne)6 – perhaps because it was not very sensible at that time to emphasize London in the Netherlands.7 During the final eighteen years of his life in Holland, in whichever city he was living he always attended the English church, which conducted its business in English.8

Cornelis Janson van Ceulen – also referred to as Cornelis Jonson II – worked in his father’s style, and does not have a well defined character. Born in London, he appears to have been active in England from about 1675, but he must have started painting in the Netherlands in the 1650s. He seems to have been fond of the blue-grey background that his father used in his later works. The relationship between the œuvres of the two artists is not clear, and it would seem that the son sometimes signed with his father’s signature, although this may only have begun after the father’s death as a means of promoting the family name, as in the portrait of Aletta Pater (Centraal Museum, Utrecht).9

Finberg 1922; Ekkart 1996b; Hearn 2003; Saur, lxxviii (2013), p. 296 (Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen; G. Seelig); Hearn 2015; Hearn 2016; Ecartico, no. 4164: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/4164 (I; May 17, 2017); Ecartico, no. 4165: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/4165 (II; May 17, 2017); RKDartists&, no. 41951:https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/41951 (I; May 17, 2017); RKDartists&, no. 41952: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/41952 (II; May 17, 2017).

Thomas Chambars after Adriaen Hanneman
Portrait of Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen (1593-1661), c. 1762
paper, copper engraving 160 (trimmed) x 125 mm
London (England), British Museum, inv./cat.nr. P,1.270

Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen (I)
Group portrait of the Hague magistrates with two servants, 1647, dated 1647
canvas, oil paint 283,5 x 373,5 cm
bottom left of the middle : Corn. Jonson van Ceulen fecit 1647
The Hague, Haags Historisch Museum

DPG564 – Portrait of a Gentleman in Black

1657; canvas, 92.5 x 73 cm
Signed and dated Cornelius Jonson / van Ceulen / fecit / 1657

?Colonel W. Pinney sale, London, Arber, Rutter and Waghorn, 21 July 1898 (Lugt 56533; C. Jansen, no. 33, ‘Portrait of a Dutch Lady’, £300, Ditto, no. 34, The companion portrait ‘A Dutch Gentleman’, £110); bt Colnaghi; Fairfax Murray Gift 1911.

PGC Minutes, 20 Jan. 1911, p. 2: ‘6. Cornelius Jansens Von Coulon, “Portrait of a Gentleman”; part of offering by Mr Fairfax Murray’); Cook 1914, p. 288, no. 564 (C. Johnson I);10 PGC Minutes, 10 May 1915, p. 59: ‘Gentleman in Black, Cornelius Johnson’ (part of a gift by a ‘Gentleman who desires to be anonymous’ (Fairfax Murray); Baker 1915, pp. 102–3 (fig.); Finberg 1922, p. 37, no. 114 (as damaged in cleaning, and conjecturally dated 1657); Schneider 1926 (Cornelius Jonson II); Cook 1926, p. 267, no. 564; Cat. 1953, p. 25; Murray 1980a, p. 72 (Cornelius Johnson II); Murray 1980b, p. 17; North 1996; Beresford 1998, p. 140 (Cornelius Johnson II); Laing 1999 (a late work by Cornelius Jonson I); Van Eikema Hommes 2004, pp. 109, 118, 140–41, 147–50, 160, note 84, 166, note 203, 169, note 270; Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 121 (Cornelius Jo(h)nson van Ceulen I or II); RKD, no. 278033: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/278033 (May 18, 2017).

Plain-weave linen canvas. There is a double ground: the bottom layer is a warm red mixture and the upper layer is beige-coloured; these two mixtures contain similar pigments in different proportions including red and yellow ochres, calcite, lead white and charcoal black. The paint has been applied in very thin layers. A brush handle has been used to scratch into the white paint of the lace collar. Glue-paste lined. The original tacking margins are absent. The colour of the background has faded dramatically from blue to the present ash colour; a strip of the original colour has survived beneath the frame rebate. The affected pigment is indigo, an organic pigment susceptible to light damage and discolouration. The paint film has suffered from extensive fine network craquelure, which may well be related to the effects of the glue-paste adhesive in the lining. Previous recorded treatment: 1953, Dr Hell; 1996, technical examination, cleaning and restoring, Courtauld Institute of Art, R. North.

1) Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen I or II, Portrait of a Lady, signed and dated Cor Jonson, van Ceulen / fecit 1652, canvas, 92.7 x 72.8 cm. Kunstmuseum St Gallen, St Gallen [3].11
2) Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen I, Portrait of a Lady, signed and dated Cor Jonson van Ceulen / fecit. / 1657, canvas, 112 x 90 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Philip Mould, London, 2012).
3a) Cornelis Johnson van Ceulen I, Portrait of Jasper Schade van Westrum (1623–92), signed and dated Cornelius Jonson van Ceulen fecit 1654, canvas, 118 x 90 cm. Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede, 698a [4].12
3b) Cornelis Johnson van Ceulen I, Portrait of Cornelia Strick van Linschoten (1628–1703), signed and dated Cornelius Jonson van Ceulen fecit 1654, canvas, 118 x 90 cm. Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede, 698b [5].13

With the date ‘1657’ (earlier read as ‘1637’), DPG564 could be by father or son. However it seems that only the father used the signature as found on it, as was noted by Malcolm Rogers in a letter of 199714 and by Alistair Laing in his review (1999) of the Beresford catalogue. Karen Hearn confirmed the date, highlighting that the sitter was probably Utrecht-based, as Jonson was living in the city from 1652.15 Some dated portraits of the 1650s are very similar. In style and the positioning of the figure, as well as its dimensions, a Portrait of a Lady now at St Gallen might be a pendant to the Dulwich portrait, although it is dated 1652 (Related works, no. 1) [3].16 The Portrait of a Lady with Philip Mould in 2012 is dated 1657 like DPG594, but it is too large (Related works, no. 2).

If DPG594 is the portrait that was in the London auction in 1898, it then had a pair; what happened to that, and what that looked like, is unknown.

In the backgrounds of the Dulwich picture and the two women’s portraits (Related works, nos 1, 2) the blue has discoloured from exposure to light; here the original colour survives under the frame.17 The three pictures seem to have had the same problems in the background as the pair of portraits of Jasper Schade van Westrum and Cornelia Strick van Linschoten by Cornelius Jonson van Ceulen I now in Enschede, dated 1654 (Related works, nos 3a, 3b) [4-5].18

Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen (I)
Portrait of an unknown man, dated 1657
canvas, oil paint 92,5 x 73 cm
upper left : Cornelis Jonson / van Ceulen / fecit / 1657
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG564

Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen (I)
Portrait of an unknown woman, dated 1652
canvas, oil paint 92,7 x 72,8 cm
lower left : Cor Jonson, van Ceulen / fecit 1652
Sankt Gallen (Switzerland), Kunstmuseum St. Gallen

Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen (I)
Portrait of Jasper Schade van Westrum (1623-1692), dated 1654
canvas, oil paint 118 x 90 cm
lower left : Cornelius Jonson van Ceulen fecit 1654
Enschede, Rijksmuseum Twenthe, inv./cat.nr. 698a

Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen (I)
Portrait of Cornelia Strick van Linschoten (1628-1703), dated 1654
canvas, oil paint 118 x 90 cm
Enschede, Rijksmuseum Twenthe, inv./cat.nr. 698b


1 Hearn 2015, p. 12, where also some training with Marcus Gheeraerts II (1561/2–1635/6) is suggested (p. 11), who lived in London; Hearn 2014, p. 2.

2 RKD, no. 14606: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/14606 (May 17, 2017); now in The Hague Historical Museum; see also Priem 2012, p. 217, fig. 3.

3 The two women's portraits in Dulwich by Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen I (DPG80 and DPG89) are both dated c. 1639, before Cornelis left for the Netherlands, so they ended up in the British catalogue: see Ingamells 2008, p. 110.

4 Baker 1915, pp. 102–3.

5 See the signatures in Hearn 2015, p. 68.

6 Karen Hearn in a lecture at the RKD, 17 March 2015.

7 Hearn 2015, pp. 58–9.

8 Email from Karen Hearn to DPG, 21 Oct. 2015 (DPG594 file).

9 ibid.

10 ‘This portrait (bought some years ago from Messrs. P. and D. Colnaghi) was once signed and dated, but the signature, which was in thin white on the dark ground, was unfortunately washed off by the picture-cleaner.’

11 RKD, no. 114589: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/114589 (March 17, 2017). The St Gallen Museum purchased the picture at auction at Sotheby’s, 13 Dec. 2001, lot 134. It seems implausible that this picture is by the son, who was eighteen years old at the time.

12 RKD, no. 14601: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/14601 (May 17, 2017); Hearn 2015, p. 59 (fig. 45); Knolle 2009.

13 RKD, no. 14602: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/14602 (May 17, 2017); Hearn 2015, p. 59 (fig. 46); Knolle 2009.

14 Letter from Malcolm Rogers to DPG, 16 Jan. 1997 (DPG594 file): ‘Comparable to his [i.e. Cornelius Jonson I’s] Prince William in the NPG […] The form of the signature of course agrees with that habitually used by CJ Senior’.

15 Email form Karen Hearn to DPG, 21 Oct. 2015 (DPG594 file).

16 It is known that pendant portraits can date from different years.

17 North 1996; Van Eikema Hommes 2004.

18 The blue background was digitally reconstructed, based on information from the colours under the frame: see Knolle 2009.

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