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Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    England (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1586-1587 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hilliard, Nicholas (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on vellum stuck onto plain card

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs Doris Herschorn

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 4

Physical description

Portrait of Elizabeth I, half length, in an oval within a rectangular frame. On either side of the portrait are inscriptions in gold.

Place of Origin

England (painted)


ca. 1586-1587 (painted)


Hilliard, Nicholas (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on vellum stuck onto plain card

Marks and inscriptions

'ELISA. / BETHA; Regina / Angliae.'
Inscribed with bands of lettering in black and gold on either side


Height: 45 mm, Width: 37 mm

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of Queen Elizabeth I, watercolour on vellum, painted by Nicholas Hilliard, ca. 1586-1587.

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

Kim Sloan. A New World. England's first view of America. London: The British Museum Press, 2006. ISBN: 0714126500.
Strong, Roy. Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983.

Labels and date

Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars label text:

Royal portraits
Miniatures of royalty often played a part in marriage negotiations with foreign courts. They also had a domestic political role; no.1 celebrates Queen Elizabeth as Cynthia, ‘the wide Ocean’s Empresse’, victorious ruler of a maritime nation. Elizabeth’s ambassadors often carried her miniature, which was much admired.

Queen Elizabeth I
About 1585–87; mount 1600–1700
By Nicholas Hilliard
Watercolour on vellum, stuck to pasteboard, set into a vellum mount
Bequeathed by Mrs Doris Herschorn
V&A: P.23-1975


Watercolour; Vellum; Cardboard



Subjects depicted

Jewels; Jewellery; Queen; Ruff


Royalty; Portraits; Paintings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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