John Campbell, 1st Earl of Loudoun, Lord Chancellor of Scotland, was the eldest son of Sir James Campbell of Lawers and his wife, Jean, daughter of James Colvill of Culros. He married Margaret (b. c. 1605), daughter of George Campbell, master of Loudoun. Margaret was heir to her grandfather Hugh Campbell, first Lord Loudoun (d. 1622) and before 1619, he resigned his peerage in favour of her husband. John Campbell took his seat in the Scottish Parliament in 1622 but his patent for an earldom was stopped by Charles I as Campbell opposed Episcopacy so vehemently. He took a leading part in the Covenant and headed an armed rebellion in Scotland in 1639. In 1640 he was sent as envoy to Charles I who imprisoned him in the Tower of London but he was released on the intervention of the Marquess of Hamilton who persuaded the king that it would be counter-productive to execute him. He joined the Scottish Army of Invasion and in 1641 was appointed Lord Chancellor of Scotland, a post he held for 19 years until he was deposed at the restoration. He was then chosen as President of the Session which ordered the Proclamation of Charles II but on the king's defeat at Worcester, he was deprived of his office and forced to hide in the Highlands. He fought at Dunbar, joined the Highland Rising of 1653 and was heavily fined by Charles II in 1662. In 1655, he finally agreed to live under English rule and his estates were returned to him. He was Chancellor of St. Andrews University from 1643 until his death in 1663 and was succeeded by his only son, James, who became second Earl of Loudoun.
This stunning miniature has not been seen since 1949. Loudoun's portrait by Cooper was previously better known through a later copy on ivory now in the Clarke Collection, on loan to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (see S. Lloyd's exhibition catalogue Portrait Miniatures from the Clarke Collection, Edinburgh, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 2001, p. 94) which was bought from the Pierpont Morgan Collection, New York, at Christie's, London, 24-27 June 1935, lot 30 (70 gns. to Partridge), and through extensive literature:
G. C. Williamson, Catalogue of the Collection of Miniatures. The Property of J. Pierpont Morgan, London, 1907, I, p. 95, no. 104, illustrated pl. XLVI; G. C. Williamson, 'Portrait Miniatures', The Studio, Spring, 1910, p. 11, illustrated pl. VII, no. 2; and G. C. Williamson, The Miniature Collector, London, 1921, p. 71, illustrated pl. XI, no. 1. Williamson (1921, loc. cit.) records that the Cooper miniature was discovered behind some panelling in Loudoun Castle 'and possesses all its colours fresh as they were first painted'.
J. J. Foster records in Samuel Cooper and the English Miniature Painters of the XVII Century, Supplement, London, 1914-1916, p. 49, nos. 306 and 307, two miniatures of John Campbell, 1st Earl of Loudoun by Samuel Cooper, one in armour with embroidered collar (no owner specified) and another '3 x 2½ in. In armour with lace collar; grey hair and small imperial', belonging to Mr J. Pierpont Morgan. Foster (op. cit., pp. 49 and 165) also records that a miniature of Loudoun was sold at Strawberry Hill, 10 May 1842 (14th day of the sale), lot 81 and described in the sale catalogue as 'A very fine miniature Portrait of Lord Loudon, Chancellor of Scotland, by COOPER' and was bought by W. M. Smith for £1 10S. This miniature was later sold in the Hollingworth Magniac sale, Christie's, London, 5 July 1892, lot 317, described as 'CHANCELLOR LOUDON IN HIS ROBES, by Cooper - in oval box-wood frame beautifully carved with scrolls and festoons of flowers, surmounted by a shield-of-arms, oval, 2½in by x 2in.' and bought for 35 gns. by Mainwaring and was exhibited at Mr E. M. Hodgkin's Exhibition in 1905.