The sitter for this painting was the Most Reverend William Laud (1573–1645), archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1640. This painting is one of several very similar portraits of Laud that Van Dyck and his studio produced. Studio copies were common practice at the time. Involvement of the master artist varied, but it is likely that Van Dyck painted the hands and face here, leaving the rest of the painting for studio assistants to finish. Scholars think a portrait in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge University is the primary version.