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James I

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    England (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1620-1625 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hoskins, John I (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on vellum put down on pasteboard

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 4

This portrait of James I was painted from life a few years before his death in 1625. It reveals something of the strain of the king’s uncertain and difficult life. Hoskins has caught the likeness of a man in his final years, the ageing around his eyes and the face drained of colour, which conveys a general air of tiredness.

Physical description

Miniature portrait, head and shoulders, turned slightly to right and looking to front. The sitter is wearing a ruff and has a blue ribbon over his shoulders. Features in short hatches of grey, brown and sanguine, with dark grey especially around the eyes and in the facial hair; some white heightening in the eyes; all on a very pale carnation ground; hair hatched in grey and brown with white lights over a pale brown wash; the ruff washed in pale grey and embossed with white; doublet in gouache washes with touches of gold, and silver in the buttons; background curtain in the flooded crimson manner (wet- in -wet); gold margin; on vellum put down on pasteboard.

Frame: A possibly eighteenth-century ebony portrait-box, each half of which is turned with a double rose on the reverse, the sides curving outward to an arris formed of a torus moulding with narrow fillets on each side; within each half, a screw thread in the sides and the flats turned with a series of torus mouldings culminating in a triple wavy-edged oval forming the opening for the miniature. In the other half is set, with no apparent iconographic point, a portrait of Catherine of Medici attributed to Clouet.

Place of Origin

England (painted)


ca. 1620-1625 (painted)


Hoskins, John I (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on vellum put down on pasteboard

Marks and inscriptions

Signed, centre left in gold

Inscribed in graphite on the back


Height: 54 mm, Width: 43.5 mm

Object history note

Provenance: Purchased from Mr H E Backer, October 1954; earlier provenance unknown.

This miniature was received in one half of a 17th century turned wood box: in the other half was a portrait of Catherine de Médicis by François Clouet (P.26-1954).

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of James I, watercolour on vellum, painted by John Hoskins, ca.1620-1625.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings Accessions 1954 London: HMSO, 1963
Murdoch, John. Seventeenth-century English Miniatures in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: The Stationery Office, 1997.

Labels and date

John Hoskins About 1590-1664/5
James I
About 1620-5

James I (1566-1625) is shown here a few years before his death. He wears the distinctive blue ribbon of the Older of the Garter, the highest order of chivalry

Watercolour on vellum, stuck to pasteboard
Museum no. P.27-1954 []


Watercolour; Vellum



Subjects depicted

Ruff; King; Ribbon; Man


Paintings; Portraits; Royalty; Scotland


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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