These are Roy Precious' notes for this work: "This beautiful painting is, as Waterhouse wrote of Johnson's work, 'very sensitive to character and beautifully drawn and meticulously painted'. Johnson's portraits are often within a feigned oval, as is this one.
LADY MARGARET STEWART (STUART), later LADY MARGARET MENNES, was the daughter of John Stewart, 1st and last Earl of Carrick and Lady Elizabeth Howard, Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth I. John Stewart was the younger son of Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney, illegitimate son of King James I of Scotland and half-brother to Mary Queen of Scots.
Lady Margaret married Sir Matthew Mennes, bearing him a daughter, also Margaret, in c.1624. This daughter married Sir John Heath and their daughter, another Margaret, married George Verney, 12th Baron Willoughby de Broke.
CORNELIUS JOHNSON (also known as Jansen or Jonson Van Ceulen) 1593-1661 was born in London, the son of Flemish emigres. Johnson is the most satisfying and 'English' of the portraitists working in England in the 1620s and 30s. He has a fine technique with a restrained and introspective style, with careful attention to the costume details.
His accurate portraits are never flattering but a sober and objective portrayal of his usual sitters: the gentry and lesser nobility. His style is easily identified by its coolness and restraint.
In 1632 he was made Painter to the King, but his wife's fears of the approaching Civil War caused him to retire to Holland in 1643 where he called himself Jonson van Ceulen."