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Portrait miniature - Charles I when Prince of Wales
  • Charles I when Prince of Wales
    Hilliard, Nicholas
  • Enlarge image

Charles I when Prince of Wales

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    England (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1613 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hilliard, Nicholas (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on vellum stuck to a playing card in a frame of ebony on oak

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by George Salting

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

Object Type
After the childless Elizabeth I (ruled 1558-1603), James I (ruled 1603-1625) offered the nation a hopeful dynastic future. He had a young family: Prince Henry (1594-1612), who was his heir, Prince Charles (1600-1649) and Princess Elizabeth (1596-1662). James embraced portraiture as a way to promote the new Stuart dynasty. During this reign, there was a massive proliferation of miniature portraits of members of the Royal Family.

Prince Charles was the second son of James I. He became heir to the throne on 6 November 1612, on the death of his older brother, Henry, Prince of Wales. He was then only 12 years of age. Charles, who had been Duke of York, was invested as Prince of Wales in 1616. He ascended the throne as Charles I in 1625. In 1649, after years of civil war, he was executed by the victorious Parliamentary forces.

This miniature was painted from life by Nicholas Hilliard (possibly born in 1547, died 1619). Prince Charles wears the blue ribbon and Lesser George of the Order of the Garter. An English order of knighthood, the Garter traditionally comprises the Sovereign and 25 Knights Companions. Thie miniature was painted after May 1611, when Charles received the Garter. It could have been painted to celebrate the event. Charles did not have his own court at this date and so sat for Hilliard, his father's limner (an old term for miniaturist).

Physical description

Portrait miniature of Charles I mounted in an ebony frame with five other portraits of the Royal family. Head and shoulders, oval, turned to front. The back of the support has been overpainted with bands of opaque pink and green watercolour.

Place of Origin

England (painted)


ca. 1613 (painted)


Hilliard, Nicholas (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on vellum stuck to a playing card in a frame of ebony on oak


Height: 27.5 cm frame, Width: 19.4 cm frame, Depth: 2.7 cm frame

Object history note

Painted by Nicholas Hilliard

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of Charles I when Prince of Wales, watercolour on vellum, painted by Nicholas Hilliard, ca. 1613.

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.

Labels and date

British Galleries:

Probably framed together 1625-1650

James I's young family, celebrated in this group of miniatures, offered hope of a secure dynasty. Prince Henry, James I's elder son, was a noted patron of artists, who died suddenly aged 18. Miniatures were given as personal gifts and were small enough to be worn to mark a courtier's loyalty. [27/03/2003]


Watercolour; Vellum; Cardboard



Subjects depicted



Paintings; Portraits; Royalty


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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