Portrait Miniature thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 57

Portrait Miniature

1578-1579 (made), 1675-1700 (mounted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
The other known version of this miniature, also by Hilliard, is in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen. Examination has revealed that the Queen's version uses the more expensive blue pigment ultramarine for the background, while the V&A version uses the more common blue bice. The Queen's version is the more costly object and is generally believed to be the one painted from life.

People
The troubled reign in Scotland of Mary, Queen of Scots ended in 1568 when the Scottish Lords forced her to flee to England. Mary had long claimed the English throne and as a Roman Catholic, had English Catholic supporters who wished to see her Queen instead of the Protestant Elizabeth. Mary was placed in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury and held in various country houses for 19 years. In 1587 Mary was executed for treason against Elizabeth.

Sittings
Mary sat for this portrait when she was a prisoner of her cousin Elizabeth I. Hilliard was not a court artist, but had an independent practice in London. It is possible that this miniature was commissioned by Mary herself rather than by Elizabeth. But Mary's jailer, the Earl of Shrewsbury would have had to sanction the sittings. In this portrait, Mary prominently wears a gold crucifix with a white figure of Christ, thus asserting her Catholicism.
read The prison embroideries of Mary, Queen of Scots The V&A holds a number of the needlework panels produced by the household of Mary, Queen of Scots, during her long imprisonment by her cousin, Elizabeth I, including pieces attributed to Mary herself. They are extremely rare surviving examples of embroideries known to have been worked by r...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour on vellum
Brief Description
Portrait miniature of Mary, Queen of Scots, painted by Nicholas Hilliard. English, 1578-1579.
Physical Description
Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots, painted in watercolour on vellum, stuck to card with an oval mount from the later 17th century.
Dimensions
  • Miniature height: 4cm
  • Miniature width: 5.1cm
Dimensions checked: Publication/measured; 03/03/1999 by sp old frame 7.6 x 9.5cm, 0.7cm depth
Marks and Inscriptions
'MARIA, Regina Scotia' (on rectangular vellum surround)
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587) sat for this portrait when she was a prisoner of Elizabeth I. Mary had asserted her claim to the English throne and Elizabeth felt compelled to keep her in custody. Elizabeth probably commissioned this portrait of her cousin whom she never met.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Mrs Doris Herschorn
Object history
From 'Artists of the Tudor Court', V&A exhibition, 1983, entry for P.23-1975: This miniature once belonged to a group of ten, four of which are now in the V&A [P.23-1975, P.24-1975, P.27-1975 and P.28-1975 - all framed in the same way with the miniature laid onto a later piece of parchment and inscribed with details of the sitter]. The earliest account of their history (Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, The Great Historic Galleries of England, London, 1881, pl. xx) is highly romanticized and claims provenance from James II via Louis XIV which cannot be proved. Their certain history is as follows: acquired in Paris by James Edwards (1757-1816), bookseller and bibliographer, probably in the aftermath of the Treaty of Amiens; sold Christie’s July 15th 1816 (lot 61); acquired by the Rev. Thomas Butt of Kinnersley, Shropshire, who married Edward’s widow; by descent to Capt. H. Edwards-Heathcote, Belton Hall, Market Drayton; sold Christie’s June 13th 1928 (lot 45); purchased by Mrs Doris Herschorn; bequeathed, 1975.



Subject depicted
Summary
Object Type
The other known version of this miniature, also by Hilliard, is in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen. Examination has revealed that the Queen's version uses the more expensive blue pigment ultramarine for the background, while the V&A version uses the more common blue bice. The Queen's version is the more costly object and is generally believed to be the one painted from life.

People
The troubled reign in Scotland of Mary, Queen of Scots ended in 1568 when the Scottish Lords forced her to flee to England. Mary had long claimed the English throne and as a Roman Catholic, had English Catholic supporters who wished to see her Queen instead of the Protestant Elizabeth. Mary was placed in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury and held in various country houses for 19 years. In 1587 Mary was executed for treason against Elizabeth.

Sittings
Mary sat for this portrait when she was a prisoner of her cousin Elizabeth I. Hilliard was not a court artist, but had an independent practice in London. It is possible that this miniature was commissioned by Mary herself rather than by Elizabeth. But Mary's jailer, the Earl of Shrewsbury would have had to sanction the sittings. In this portrait, Mary prominently wears a gold crucifix with a white figure of Christ, thus asserting her Catholicism.
Collection
Accession Number
P.24-1975

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdSeptember 12, 2001
Record URL