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An Unknown Woman

Portrait Miniature
ca. 1590 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In 2014 it was suggested that this miniature of an unknown woman was a portrait of Emilia or Amelia Bassano [Amelia or Emilia Bassano, married to Alphonso Lanier]. See John Hudson 'Shakespeare's Dark Lady: Amelia Bassano Lanier the Woman Behind Shakespeare's Plays?' (2014). Another miniature by Nicholas Hilliard in the V&A’s collection (museum no. P.134-1910) has also been suggested as a portrait of Amelia or Emilia Bassano, married to Alphonso Lanier.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour on vellum stuck to a plain card
Brief Description
Portrait miniature of an unknown woman, watercolour on vellum, painted by Nicholas Hilliard, ca. 1590.
Physical Description
Portrait miniature of a woman, head and shoulders, oval, mounted on card.
Dimensions
  • Height: 51.5mm
  • Width: 43mm
  • Case height: 85mm
  • Case width: 64mm
  • Case depth: 5mm
  • Case (with pearl drop) height: 86mm
  • Case (without pearl) height: 77mm
  • Case width: 69mm
  • Case depth: 5mm
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 woman, oval, head and shoulders, turned slightly to left and looking to front; the sitter is wearing a large collar.
Styles
Gallery Label
Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars label text: Unknown lady About 1590 England By Nicholas Hilliard Watercolour on vellum stuck on to a plain card Purchased with funds from the R.H. Stephenson Bequest V&A: P.8-1945
Credit line
Purchased from the funds of the R. H. Stephenson Bequest
Object history
COLLECTIONS: Purchased in 1945 from H. E. Backer, 1 Elm Tree Road, St. John’s Wood, London, who state that he had acquired it by private treaty from a family said to have owned it for a long time. Purchased with funds from the R. H. Stevenson Bequest.

Subject depicted
Summary
In 2014 it was suggested that this miniature of an unknown woman was a portrait of Emilia or Amelia Bassano [Amelia or Emilia Bassano, married to Alphonso Lanier]. See John Hudson 'Shakespeare's Dark Lady: Amelia Bassano Lanier the Woman Behind Shakespeare's Plays?' (2014). Another miniature by Nicholas Hilliard in the V&A’s collection (museum no. P.134-1910) has also been suggested as a portrait of Amelia or Emilia Bassano, married to Alphonso Lanier.
Bibliographic Reference
Strong, Roy. Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620.. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983. Cat. 88, p. 78. Part Citation: "The miniature was formerly wrongly identified as Mary, Queen of Scots. Little of the costume is visible which poses difficulties in dating. Both Graham Reynolds and Erna Auerbach date it c. 1588 and indeed there is costume evidence to support this (see Roy Strong, The English Icon, p. 188 (136) dated 1587)."
Collection
Accession Number
P.8-1945

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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