An Unknown Man, aged 24 thumbnail 1
An Unknown Man, aged 24 thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery

An Unknown Man, aged 24

Portrait Miniature
1572 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This portrait of an unknown man is one of a pair; the portrait of his wife is still in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch. The pictures are unusual, both in terms of traditional miniatures and Hilliard’s own work, as they are rectangular in shape and were formerly set into a diptych-style frame. This unusual format was probably the innovation of Hilliard, who was still experimenting with the miniature format at this early stage in his career. He has, however, retained the traditional way of inscribing miniatures, citing the date as ‘Ano Dni 1576’ (an abbreviation for Anno Domini, ‘in the year of our Lord’) and the age of the sitter as ‘Aetatis Sue XXIIII’ (aged 24). The face here has been retouched; the original skin tone would have been more pale.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour on vellum stuck to a playing card
Brief Description
Portrait miniature of an unknown man, aged 24, watercolour on vellum, painted by Nicholas Hilliard, 1572.
Physical Description
Portrait of a man, half-length, turned slightly to right, eyes to front, and wearing a black cap with a feather, a ruff and a pendant on a ribbon round his neck; inscriptions in gold on either side on a blue background. The vellum on which the portrait is painted is stuck onto a playing card, on the back of which is the three of hearts.
Dimensions
  • Height: 60mm
  • Width: 48mm
Dimensions taken from: Strong, Roy. Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620.. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983.
Content description
Portrait of a man, half-length, wearing a ruff, black cap and a pendant round his neck.
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
'AEtatis sue. XXIIII / Ano., 1572.' (Inscribed on either side of the head)
Credit line
Presented by Art Fund
Object history
Provenance: Part of the collection formed by Walter Francis, 5th Duke of Buccleuch (1806-84); first recorded in 1864; purchased and presented by the N.A.C.F. 1942
Subjects depicted
Summary
This portrait of an unknown man is one of a pair; the portrait of his wife is still in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch. The pictures are unusual, both in terms of traditional miniatures and Hilliard’s own work, as they are rectangular in shape and were formerly set into a diptych-style frame. This unusual format was probably the innovation of Hilliard, who was still experimenting with the miniature format at this early stage in his career. He has, however, retained the traditional way of inscribing miniatures, citing the date as ‘Ano Dni 1576’ (an abbreviation for Anno Domini, ‘in the year of our Lord’) and the age of the sitter as ‘Aetatis Sue XXIIII’ (aged 24). The face here has been retouched; the original skin tone would have been more pale.
Bibliographic References
  • Strong, Roy. Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620.. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983. Cat. 58, Pp. 62-63. Part Citation: One of a pair of miniature of husband and wife, the latter being still in the Buccleuch collection. It and its companion are rare instances in Hilliard’s work or rectangular miniatures. Graham Reynolds (English Portrait Miniatures, 1952, p. 18) points out the influence of Antonis Mor, and John Pope-Hennessy that of Francois Clouet and French court portraiture (Lecture on Nicholas Hilliard, 1949, pp. 17-18) but the portrait formula could equally have been derived from Hans Eworth who was still working in the 1570s (Roy Strong, The English Icon, pp. 92. The format must have been dictated by the client, presumably to create some form of diptych. Oval and circular miniatures lending themselves more readily to setting in lockets of ivory boxes. The liveliness of characterization suggests familiarity already with French portrait drawings by Clouet. In 1864 the miniature was unattributed but identified as James Stuart, 1st Earl of Moray, and identification that cannot be sustained because of the age of the sitter.
  • p. 44Catharine MacLeod with Rab MacGibbon, Victoria Button, Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire.‎ Elizabethan treasures : miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver. London : National Portrait Gallery, 2019.‎ ISBN: 9781855147027‎
Collection
Accession Number
P.1-1942

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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