- John de Critz, British, 1551-1641
John de Critz
Flemish, 1551/52–1642, active in England
Portrait of a Gentleman, about 1605
Oil paint on wood panel
Promised Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, TL-17738
This painting by the Flemish artist John de Critz has traditionally been thought to represent William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle and 11th Baron Morley, famous in British history for uncovering the Gunpowder Plot, a Catholic conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament and assassinate James I on November 5, 1605. Our picture was thought to date from about 1615, when Parker, who was born in 1575, would have been about age 40. However, recent research on the life of de Critz revealed that the artist lost his sight around 1605, so the picture could not have been painted later. Thus it is unlikely that the sitter is William Parker, who would have been only about 30 in 1605, while our picture portrays a man likely older than 50. The identification of the sitter as William Parker may have been the hopeful suggestion of a previous owner of the picture, a 19th-century antiquarian.