The Evelyn family were said to have come from Normandy and settled in Shropshire and afterwards in Middlesex. Richard Evelyn (1587-1640) was the son of George Evelyn by his second marriage and was to inherit Wotton near Dorking, Surrey, on his fathers death. Richard's estate was worth £4000 a year and in 1633 he was made High Sheriff for Sussex and Surrey. Richard Evelyn married Eleanor, daughter of John Standsfield in 1614 and in 1620 they had their second son, John, the famous diarist.
John Evelyn's Diary, 1634 records 'My father ...had 16 servants in liverys, everyone livery'd in greene sattin doublets; divers gentlemen and persons of quality waited on him in the same garbe and habit, which at that time (when 30 or 40 was the usual retinue of the High Sheriff) was esteemed a great matter'
Little is known of John Parker, but William Sanderson, the historian and writer in his 'Graphice: The Use of Pen and Pencil, or the Most Excellent Art of Painting', London, 1658, records a 'Mr. Parker' as an amateur painter adding that he was a 'worthy gentleman, ingenious in their private delight'. Parker's portraits show the early infleunce of Van Dyck in their pattern and composition, and the artist has long been associated with the Evelyn family. A similar picture attributed to John Parker of Mrs. Evelyn from the same Evelyn provenance was exhibited in 'The Age of Charles I', Tate Gallery, 1972, no.142.
We are grateful to Sir Oliver Millar KCVO for confirming the attribution.