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Portrait Miniature of an Unknown Man

Portrait Miniature
1550s (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

In Roy Strong's exhibition catalogue Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620, London, V&A, 1983, this miniature was cat.no. 110. Strong attributed it to Nicholas Hilliard, suggesting it was probably copied after a portrait by Levina Teerlinc from 1550, and was possibly of "Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and 1st Duke of Somerset", and dated it to c. 1600.

In a recent reassessment of the workshop practice of Nicholas Hilliard Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire of the V&A re-examined this miniature. Their conclusion was that "the miniature clearly dates from the 1550s". They further noted that the gold inscription, though 'not of a high quality, is in Hilliard’s manner.' (See Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire, 'Nicholas Hilliard's Workshop Practice reconsidered', in 'Painting in Britain 1500-1630: Production, Influences and Patronage', ed. T.Cooper et al, Oxford, 2015, pp.241-251.). The inscription in the manner of Hilliard is discussed in the light of other works pre-dating Hilliard which are inscribed in Hilliard's characteristic curling gold calligraphy: such as Hans Holbein's 'Lord Abergavenny' in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch. This suggests that it is plausible for this miniature of an unknown man to date from the 1550s but have an inscription added by Hilliard in the late 16th century. It is worth noting that the inscription on this miniature - 'Aetatis suae' - is unfinished, as the age of the sitter has not been added, and was perhaps unknown to the person adding the inscription.



Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Watercolour on vellum stuck to plain card
Brief description
Anonymous portrait miniature of an unknown man, c.1550.
Physical description
Portrait miniature of an unknown man, head and shoulders, in a circular frame; inscriptions in gold on either side of the head.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 34mm
Dimensions taken from: Strong, Roy. Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620.. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983.
Content description
Portrait of a man, head and shoulders, to front and wearing a hat and a fur robe; the sitter has a long beard.
Styles
Marks and inscriptions
'Anno Dni 1550 / Aetatis suae' (Inscribed on either side of the head)
Credit line
Transferred from the British Museum
Subjects depicted
Summary
In Roy Strong's exhibition catalogue Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620, London, V&A, 1983, this miniature was cat.no. 110. Strong attributed it to Nicholas Hilliard, suggesting it was probably copied after a portrait by Levina Teerlinc from 1550, and was possibly of "Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and 1st Duke of Somerset", and dated it to c. 1600.



In a recent reassessment of the workshop practice of Nicholas Hilliard Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire of the V&A re-examined this miniature. Their conclusion was that "the miniature clearly dates from the 1550s". They further noted that the gold inscription, though 'not of a high quality, is in Hilliard’s manner.' (See Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire, 'Nicholas Hilliard's Workshop Practice reconsidered', in 'Painting in Britain 1500-1630: Production, Influences and Patronage', ed. T.Cooper et al, Oxford, 2015, pp.241-251.). The inscription in the manner of Hilliard is discussed in the light of other works pre-dating Hilliard which are inscribed in Hilliard's characteristic curling gold calligraphy: such as Hans Holbein's 'Lord Abergavenny' in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch. This suggests that it is plausible for this miniature of an unknown man to date from the 1550s but have an inscription added by Hilliard in the late 16th century. It is worth noting that the inscription on this miniature - 'Aetatis suae' - is unfinished, as the age of the sitter has not been added, and was perhaps unknown to the person adding the inscription.



Bibliographic references
  • Strong, Roy. Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620.. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983. Cat. 110, p. 87. As "Nicholas Hilliard probably after Levina Teerlinc ?Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and 1st Duke of Somerset, c. 1600"
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1942, London: HMSO, 1955. The full text of the record is as follows: 'ANONYMOUS: English School, 18th century, Miniature portrait of a bearded man. Inscribed 'Anni Dñi. 155[?] and Aetatis suae'. On parchment on card. Circular.'
Collection
Accession number
P.25-1942

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Record createdJuly 8, 2003
Record URL
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