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  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1610 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hilliard, Nicholas (miniaturist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled gold, with miniatures on vellum stuck to card

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 6

Object Type
The case is decorated on both sides with red translucent enamel on a diapered ground. The band is enamelled in opaque white. Thin gold lines remain to form a network of long C-scrolls. Inside the case are two miniatures from the workshop of Nicholas Hilliard. One shows James I, King of England (ruled 1603-1625), the other Noah's Ark. The portrait of James I derives from a miniature by Hilliard, painted around 1605, which is now at Windsor Castle.

Nicholas Hilliard (possibly born in 1547, died 1619) was the most famous miniature painter of his day. He was trained as a goldsmith. He is known to have worked on a jewel for Edward Seymour, 2nd Earl of Hertford (died 1621) and to have designed a Great Seal for Elizabeth I (ruled 1558-1603). Unfortunately, however, there is no documentary evidence that he did any of the gold work on jewels associated with miniatures from his workshop, even when they were as ambitious as the Drake Jewel.

Subjects Depicted
The emblem inside the lid alludes to the English monarch guiding the ship of the English Church safely through the stormy sea. It was originally associated with Queen Elizabeth's leadership of the Church during the decades following Henry VIII's break with Rome in the 1530s. James I adopted the emblem on this locket, and also on some medals.

Physical description

A small circular locket decorated with opaque and translucent enamel. Within are miniatures from the studio of Nicholas Hilliard depicting King James I and the Ark.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1610 (made)


Hilliard, Nicholas (miniaturist)

Materials and Techniques

Enamelled gold, with miniatures on vellum stuck to card

Marks and inscriptions

May she stand safe through the waves
Latin; Around the edge of the miniature of the ark


Height: 3 cm

Object history note

Miniatures painted in the London studio of Nicholas Hilliard (born in Exeter, Devon, possibly 1547, died in London, 1619); maker of locket unidentified

Descriptive line

Jewellery, England

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

Somers-Cock, Anna, Princely Magnificence: court jewels of the Renaissance, 1500-1630, V&A, 1980, p.86, cat. 117

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Miniatures of James were often given unframed by the king as gifts and worn as badges of loyalty. James continued to use Elizabeth I's emblem of a ship. The king steers the Church through religious dispute like a ship through stormy seas. [27/03/2003]


Jewellery; Portraits; Royalty; Scotland; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

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