Born in 1577 Ruthven was the second son of William Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, and his wife Dorothea Stewart. Ruthven completed his studies at the University of Edinburgh in 1593 and a few months later, he offered his services to Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Ruthven was involved in various treasonable conspiracies when, in 1594, he left for Italy to study at the University of Padua. Ruthven would soon stop in Paris where he made acquaintance with the English ambassador Henry Neville.
Neville mentioned Ruthven’s arrival to Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury, describing Ruthven as a young man devoted to Queen Elizabeth’s service. On his return to London, Ruthven was well received by both the queen and her ministers.
The restoration of the Johan Ruthven canvas has been supported by Ordine Interprovinciale dei Chimici e Fisici del Veneto