He was a pupil of his uncle John Hoskins, as was his brother Alexander. He moved in the circle of Van Dyck and, by about 1635, was independent of his uncle, who is said to have become jealous of him. It was probably at this time that he made his extensive travels on the Continent. By the time of the Commonwealth he was the most highly regarded miniaturist in Europe. Charles II patronised him immediately and after his restoration, and appointed him King’s Limner. The immense regard in which he was held in his own day is shown by the fact that his charge for a miniature was more than double that charged by Lely for a head-and-shoulders portrait, and he has always maintained his reputation as the greatest English miniaturist of the 17th century.