About the object

Signed with initial and dated 1653

Henry was the son of Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, as a courtier he was fortunate in that he obtained great influence with Queen Henrietta Maria, and employed it to further the interests of his brother, the Earl of Northumberland, and his brother-in-law, the Earl of Leicester. In 1639 he was appointed master of the horse to the Prince of Wales, and on 6 June 1640 he was appointed captain and governor of Jersey for life.

He was punished for his share in the "First army plot" in 1641, and was expelled from the House of Commons, after which he retreated to France. At the outbreak of the war made himself useful to Queen Henrietta Maria, who employed him as an agent to King Charles, and obtained his restoration to favour. "Truly", she wrote, "I think him very faithful, and that we may trust him". Thanks to her support, he became on 22 May 1643 general of the ordnance in the king's army, and was created on 28 June of the same year Baron Percy of Alnwick.

On 11 January 1645 he was placed under arrest by the King on the charge of holding correspondence with his enemies and uttering disrespectful speeches, but in reality on account of the persistency with which they urged him to open negotiations with Parliament Percy was released a few weeks later, and, having procured a pass from Essex, sought to take ship for the continent.

Percy arrived at Paris at the end of March 1645, and, though the King had cautioned the Queen not to trust him too much, was speedily as great a favourite with Henrietta as before. In March 1648 he was wounded in a duel with Prince Rupert, and in the following October was put under arrest for giving the lie to Lord Colepeper in the presence of the Prince of Wales.

John Hoskins's earliest miniatures date from c. 1615; his early work had affinities with the styles of both Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, but underwent a marked change after the accession of Charles I in 1625, when his work took on a more contemporary feel. Hoskins became the principal miniature painter, or 'limner', at court and produced numerous miniatures of Charles I, Henrietta Maria, and key courtiers such as George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. The changed political circumstances of the 1640s and 1650s led to a decline in his fortunes and he died in impoverished circumstances in 1665.

After c.1641 Hoskins was superseded as the leading London miniaturist by his nephew Samuel Cooper.  This portrait is dated 1653 and must be considered one of his last works. Hoskins was the first miniaturist to employ the landscape background, which demonstrates a debt to Hollar.

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