CORNELIS JONSON (or JOHNSON) VAN CEULEN
London 1593 - 1661 Utrecht
Cornelis Jonson was born in London in 1593, the son of another Cornelis Jonson who had fled from Antwerp to escape religious persecution. His grandfather Peter Jansen originally came from Cologne, hence the family name ‘van Ceulen’.
Jonson probably trained as an artist in the northern Netherlands, returning to London circa 1618, where he set up as a portrait painter. His earliest known works are dated 1619. Jonson’s early portraits are finely-painted head-and-shoulders, often in feigned ovals. In 1623 he painted his first three-quarter length portrait, of Baron Coventry (collection of the Earl of Clarendon). Jonson was at the height of his London popularity in the early 1630s, when he painted a copy of Mytens’s portrait of Charles I, 1631 (Chatsworth House, Derbyshire). In December 1632 he was named as a ‘servant in ye quality of picture maker’ to Charles I. Jonson also painted miniatures.
In 1643, after the start of the Civil War, Jonson returned to the Netherlands, settling first in Middelburg and in 1646 in Amsterdam, where he painted a large group portrait of The Magistrates of The Hague, 1647 (Oude Stadhuis, The Hague). Paintings from his Dutch period are notable for their elegance and delicacy of execution. Cornelis died in Utrecht in 1661. His son Cornelis II was also a painter.
The work of Cornelis Jonson is represented in the Tate Gallery, London; Chatsworth House, Derbyshire; the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff; the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and the Huntington Library and Art Collections, San Marino, CA.