Although his family were German-Flemish refugees, Johnson himself was born in London. The careful observation and refined handling of his portraits suggest that he may have trained - at least in part - in Holland. This is one of his earliest works.The sitter was the only daughter of Sir Alexander Temple of Etchingham, Sussex. The martlet (a heraldic bird) in her ear-ring is part of the Temple family arms. Susanna's first husband, Sir Gifford Thornhurst, was to die in 1627. In 1636 she married Sir Martin Lister of Thorpe Arnold, Leicestershire.