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Portrait miniature - Portrait miniature of an unknown young man
  • Portrait miniature of an unknown young man
    Hilliard, Nicholas
  • Enlarge image

Portrait miniature of an unknown young man

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1588 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hilliard, Nicholas (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on vellum laid onto card

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by J. Bryson

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 2

Although Nicholas Hilliard painted members of Queen Elizabeth I’s court, he also accepted commissions from customers who visited his shop in the City of London. Few of his sitters’ names are inscribed on their miniatures, and so many persons depicted are now therefore impossible to identify. This unknown young man, with his gold earring, rakish beard and long curl, seems the epitome of an Elizabethan gentleman. Dateable to the same year as Hilliard’s celebrated Young Man Clasping a Hand from a Cloud, this portrait demonstrates a simple alternative to the complex symbolism of many court portraits.

Physical description

Portrait miniature of an unknown man, watercolour on vellum. The man is depicted quarter-length against a blue background, wearing a black jacket with a white lace collar. He has long dark hair in ringlets and two interlocking gold hoop earrings in one ear.

Place of Origin

England (probably, painted)


ca. 1588 (painted)


Hilliard, Nicholas (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on vellum laid onto card


Height: 55 mm, Width: 44 mm

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of an unknown man, watercolour on vellum, painted by Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619). Great Britain, ca. 1588.

Labels and date

Nicholas Hilliard 1547-1619
Unknown Man
About 1588
Watercolour on vellum, stuck to pasteboard
Bequeated by John Bryson
Museum no. P.15-1977 []


Water-colour; Vellum



Subjects depicted

Portrait; Earrings


Portraits; Paintings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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