Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Miniature - Portrait of a lady in profile a l'antique
  • Portrait of a lady in profile a l'antique
  • Enlarge image

Portrait of a lady in profile a l'antique

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1610 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)
    Hilliard, Nicholas (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on vellum, mounted on card with part of a black cypher

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Watercolour on vellum, stuck onto playing card with part of a black cypher. The miniature depicts an unknown woman in a l'antique profile, wearing a grey masquing costume, interlaced with black beads and white lace. Her bodice shows hints of red, green and gold. Her hair is dressed with strands of pearls tied in a bow and single jewels at the front of her head. She is set against a black background.

Place of Origin

Britain (made)


ca. 1610 (made)


Unknown (maker)
Hilliard, Nicholas (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on vellum, mounted on card with part of a black cypher


Height: 41 mm sight size, oval, Width: 35 mm sight size, oval

Object history note

Item Provenance: The estate of the late Rt. Hon. Viscount Harcourt, K.C.M.G., O.B.E.

Exhibitions: Special Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures on loan at the South Kensington Museum, London, 1865. No.1713.

This miniature is one of ten by various artists acquired as a group and displayed in two frames. Nine of these miniatures are in the V&A collection, E.1170-1178-1988. The tenth miniature by Nicholas Hilliard of the poet Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke is now held by the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature on vellum by a follower of Nicholas Hilliard, depicting a lady in profile a l'antique. Great Britain, ca. 1610.

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

Strong, Sir Roy, "The Leicester House Miniatures: Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester and his circle", Burlington Magazine CXXVII, p.698, Cat. No. VII, fig. 49.
The following in an excerpt from a valuation report made by Christie's of the estate of the late Rt. Hon. Viscount Harcourt, K. C. M. G., O. B. E.

"An inscription on the reverse of the miniature states that the sitter is Queen Elizabeth. This, however, seems highly improbable, as the type of attire with elaborate dressing of the hair falling loosely onto the shoulders is typical of the early masques performed for Queen Anne. It is an important miniature in that masques for ladies were rare and none were done after 1613.
The miniature may be compared with Isaac Oliver's portrait of Anne of Denmark in the costume for 'Masque of Beauty' (1608), or 'Love Freed' (1611). (See Auberach Hilliard, p. 249, pl. 217) and can be dated circa 1610. The brushwork is contemporary with Hilliard but lacks his and Oliver's finesse.
It is, however, interesting, particularly in the use of the black background, being employed by Hilliard on only one occasion (see Roy Strong, 'The English Renaissance', p. 114, pl. 96) where it was used to signify constancy."

Production Note

Anonymous: ca. 1610






Paintings; Portraits


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.