CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The pragmatic portraitist: The national and professional identities of Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen (1593-1661)

Lecture: 17 March 2015

Information from the RKD, 18 February 2015

Once a month the RKD provides scholars with an opportunity to bring recent research to the attention of a wider public. On Tuesday 17 March, Karen Hearn FSA will give a talk about her research into the Anglo-Netherlandish portrait painter Cornelius Johnson [Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen] and her forthcoming Johnson book and display which opens at the National Portrait Gallery in London on 15 April 2015.

Much 16th and 17th century British art – especially art made for the elites – was in fact produced by migrants, especially from the Netherlands. The portraitist known in Britain as ‘Cornelius Johnson’ (and in the Netherlands as ‘Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen’) had a reverse career trajectory. Born in London in 1593, to an exile from Antwerp whose family had originated in Cologne, Jonson apparently trained in the northern Netherlands.

Appointed king Charles I’s ‘Picture drawer’ in 1632, Jonson emigrated from Civil-War Britain to the United Provinces in 1643. There, in Middelburg, The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht, he adapted his style for the local audience. Pragmatically responding to changing patronage contexts and markets, Jonson painted portraits on every scale, from the miniature to the full-length group. When he died in 1661, he was a prosperous man. This lecture will demonstrate how skilfully he deployed his ‘foreignness’ as a marketing tool.

Karen Hearn FSAwas the Curator of 16th and 17th Century British Art at Tate Britain, London, from 1992 to 2012, and is now an Honorary Professor at University College London. Karen Hearn’s work focuses on art in Britain between 1500 and 1710, and on British-Netherlandish cultural links during that period.

Practical information

Tickets for the lecture cost € 5,- and can be bought through the RKD-webshop. Friends can book a place for free via If you would like to join the Friends organisation, please register here: RKD-website.

Drinks will be served after the lecture until 19.00. We look forward to seeing you at the RKD on Tuesday 17 March. Doors open: 16.45, lecture: 17.00-18.00

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