Portrait of a Gentleman, probably James Howell

Portrait of a Gentleman, probably James Howell

Cornelius Johnson, British, 1593-1661
Oil paint on canvas
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust

Cornelius Johnson, Portrait of a Gentleman, probably James Howell, 1634. Oil paint on canvas; 32 × 25 in. (81.3 × 63.5 cm). Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, 2020.17

image height: 32 in, 81.2800 cm; image width: 25 in, 63.5000 cm; frame height: 39 5/8 in, 100.6475 cm; frame width: 33 3/16 in, 84.2963 cm; frame depth: 3 3/4 in, 9.5250 cm
European and American Art Before 1900
European Painting and Sculpture before 1900

One of the most prolific portraitists in London in 1620s and ‘30s, Cornelius Johnson worked in an elegant, somewhat conservative style, his compositions simple and unadorned and the details of his sitters’ features and dress closely observed. His subject here is thought to be James Howell (1594?-1666), who wrote numerous historical and political pamphlets and held diplomatic and administrative posts under Charles I. Johnson’s restrained style moderated with Sir Anthony van Dyck’s arrival in England in 1632, becoming more naturalistic, as here, with the inclusion of his subject’s right hand, an addition that enhances the portrait’s lifelikeness. 

Known Provenance
Sir Godfrey Thomas; by descent; sale, Christie’s, South Kensington, November 12, 1998, lot 9; from which acquired by William M. B. Berger and Bernadette Johnson Berger, Denver; Berger Collection Educational Trust; gifted to the Denver Art Museum, 2020. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum and we will post information as it becomes available. Please e-mail provenance@denverartmuseum.org, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • “Treasures from the Berger Collection: British Paintings 1400-2000” — Denver Art Museum, 10/2/2014 – 9/9/2018