The sitter was the 5th son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland (1502-1553). A great favourite of Queen Elizabeth I's, he was made both a Knight of the Garter and a Privy Councillor, but he failed in his attempts to obtain the Queen's hand in marriage. He was twice married, first, in 1550, to Amye Robsart, whom he was reputed to have murdered, and second, in 1578, to Lettice Knollys, widow of Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex. This portrait relates to the portrait type of c. 1587, attributed to William Segar, of which the most important version is in the collection of the Marquess of Salisbury at Hatfield (for which see E. Auerbach and C. Kingsley Adams, Paintings and Sculptures at Hatfield House, London, 1971, no. 31).
The Twisden collection of Bradbourne was partly formed in the 17th Century.