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Portrait miniature - A Man, called Sir Arundel Talbot
  • A Man, called Sir Arundel Talbot
    Oliver, Isaac, born 1558 - died 1617
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A Man, called Sir Arundel Talbot

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    Venice (painted)

  • Date:

    1596 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Oliver, Isaac, born 1558 - died 1617 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on vellum stuck to a playing card, with clipped corners

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the Captain H. B. Murray Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 18

Isaac Oliver learned miniature painting techniques from Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), probably around 1587, but had undoubtedly already had some training in art on the Continent. This miniature of Sir Arundel Talbot dating from 1596 is inscribed with a note by Oliver explaining that it was painted when he was in Venice. This visit to Italy was unusual for an English artist, but it is notable that Oliver signed the work "Francese IO", emphasising his French birth. Oliver's knowledge of Continental art is apparent in a number of his miniatures.

This work shows what might have been achieved after two of the three customary sittings, working directly onto the vellum. The features have begun to be modelled over the carnation colour, using hatches of red and brown, but more detail is needed. The card support for the miniature has not been trimmed, and details of Talbot’s outfit are incomplete.

Physical description

Portrait miniature of a man, half-length, wearing a black doublet; oval portrait held in an octangonal frame with a loop at the top. An inverted heart is visible on the reverse of the support

Place of Origin

Venice (painted)


1596 (painted)


Oliver, Isaac, born 1558 - died 1617 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on vellum stuck to a playing card, with clipped corners

Marks and inscriptions

In a first hand: ‘adi. 13. Magio. 1596. / In Venetia / Fecit m. Isacq oliuierao / Francese IO [monogram] V.14. / da £8.’
‘The 13th day of May 1596 / at Venice/ done by Mr. Isaac Oliver / Frenchman I.O. May 14th / for £8.’

In a second hand: ‘Viva et vera effigies / Arundelli Talbot / Equitis Aurati’.
‘Living and true effigy / of Arundel Talbot / ‘gilded’ knight’.
The inscription at the back, on a playing card with single heart


Height: 69 mm, Width: 54 mm

Object history note

Provenance: W. G. Eden, 253 Cromwell Road from whom it was purchased by Messrs. Durlacher, 12th February 1909; sold from the H. P. Pfungst collection, Christie’s 14th June 1917 (lot 57); acquired by the V&A under the Capt H. B. Murray Bequest.

Descriptive line

Portrait miniatue of a man, called Sir Arundel Talbot, watercolour on vellum, painted by Isaac Oliver, 1596.

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

Strong, Roy. Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983.





Subjects depicted



Images Online; Portraits; Paintings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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