Richard Hilliard thumbnail 1
Richard Hilliard thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery

Richard Hilliard

Portrait Miniature
1576-1577 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Richard Hilliard, the artist's father, was a leading goldsmith and citizen of Exeter in Devon. He is shown here at the age of 58 in the year 1577. He had taken a prominent role in the defence of the city in 1549 when it was threatened by rioters protesting against King Edward VI's introduction of a new Protestant Prayer Book. Under Edward, England was a safe haven for Protestant refugees from the European Continent. But in the reign that followed (1553-1558) - that of `Bloody Mary' (the ardent Roman Catholic Mary I) – numerous Protestants left England, and the young Hilliard was sent to Geneva. This miniature, along with Hilliard's own self portrait and that of his wife, Alice (both of which are also in the V&A) are the earliest surviving examples by an artist in England of such intimate portraits of himself and his family.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour on vellum laid onto plain card
Brief Description
Portrait miniature of Richard Hilliard, watercolour on vellum, painted by Nicholas Hilliard, 1576 of 1577.
Physical Description
Portrait of a middle-aged man, head and shoulders, turned slightly to left and looking to left; the sitter is wearing a black cap, a fur mantle and a ruff; inscriptions in gold on either side of the portrait on a blue background. The painting set in a gold circular frame with raised concentric circles.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 41mm
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 middle-aged man, head and shoulders, wearing a black cap and fur mantle.
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'Aetatis suae 58 / Anno Dni. 157[?] [restored to a 7]' (Inscribed On either side of the head)
  • 'Hilliard the / Father painted by his / son – See an acct of these / pictures in H. Walpole’s / anec. Of pai[n]ting vol I art / Hilliard / These pictures were in the col / lection of the last and only Earl / of Leicester and were given by / him to the late field / Marshall Sir Robert / Rich / C E Liddell.' (Inscribed by Lady Caroline Liddell on a paper at the back of the frame)
Gallery Label
Nicholas Hilliard 1547-1619 Richard Hilliard dated 1577? Richard Hilliard (1518/19-94) was a goldsmith in Exeter and the father of Nicholas Hilliard Watercolour on vellum, stuck to a later piece of card Inscribed either side of the head in Latin 'At the age of 58 / Year of Our Lord 157[?]', the last digit retouched Sating Bequest Museum no. P.154-1910
Credit line
Bequeathed by George Salting
Production
This miniature was painted in 1576 or 1577. Richard Hilliard left for France by July 1576, so it is unclear whether the portrait was painted in England or France.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Richard Hilliard, the artist's father, was a leading goldsmith and citizen of Exeter in Devon. He is shown here at the age of 58 in the year 1577. He had taken a prominent role in the defence of the city in 1549 when it was threatened by rioters protesting against King Edward VI's introduction of a new Protestant Prayer Book. Under Edward, England was a safe haven for Protestant refugees from the European Continent. But in the reign that followed (1553-1558) - that of `Bloody Mary' (the ardent Roman Catholic Mary I) – numerous Protestants left England, and the young Hilliard was sent to Geneva. This miniature, along with Hilliard's own self portrait and that of his wife, Alice (both of which are also in the V&A) are the earliest surviving examples by an artist in England of such intimate portraits of himself and his family.
Associated Object
Bibliographic References
  • Strong, Roy. Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620.. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983. Cat. 48, pp. 58-59. Part Citation: Richard Hilliard (1518/19-1594), goldsmith of Exeter, was of reformist bent and father of Nicholas. The descent of this miniature is identical to that of Hilliard's self-portrait (P.155-1910) which, as in the case of the self-portrait, presupposes the miniature was painted in France or that Hilliard was in England for a period during his known time in France, if the date of 1577 is correct. V. J. Murrell [V&A conservator] points out that the last figure of the date has completely flaked away and that it could have been erroneously restored. Erna Auerbach (Hilliard, 1961, p. 2) established Richard’s birth to 1518/19 and, as he is fifty-eight in the miniature, this would give us a date of either 1576 or 1577. If the former it could work as having been painted just before the artist left for France which was by July 1576. The miniature was once set into a frame along the lines of that still around Alice Brandon (P.2-1942) which bore an inscription recorded by the writer and artist Roger De Piles: "Ricardux Hilliardus quondam vice-comes civitatis et comitatus Exonia, anno 1560, aetatis suae 58, annoq(ue) Domini 1577" (De Piles, Art of Painting, London, 1706, p. 431). This was discarded when it was inset into a snuff-box. The descent is identical to the one of the Self portrait by Nicholas Hilliard (P.155-1910). Both are referred to in the will of Nicholas Hilliard's son, Laurence Hilliard, dated February 21st 1640 bequeathing to his son, Thomas: “by way of Leagacey my gran Father(s) (pic) Hillyard his picture in an ivrey box with a Cristall vpponst” (Erna Auerbach, Hilliard, 1961, p. 227). This originally read “my Fathars pic” and was altered to “my gran Fathar”. both Richard's and Nicholas's miniatures are next referred to by de Piles in 1706 when in the possession of Simon Fanshaw: “There are moreover, two wonderful pieces of his, now in the Possession of Simon Fanshaw, Esq; and by him valu’d, nor without reason, as ‘tis the opinion of some good Judges, at above 50 Guineas each, tho’ not much bigger than a Crown-Piece. One of these is the Picture of our Artist himself, with this / inscription in Gold Letters round it. / Nicolaus… / The other is the Picture of his Father…These two pictures in Miniature are so Masterly done, that not only the Faces are finely colour’d an naturally with a good Rilievo; but that almost each single Hair is express’d.” (De Piles, The Art of Painting, London 1706, pp. 430-31 and Vertue. Notebooks, II, p. 129). Both were acquired by John Sidney, 6th Earl of Leicester (1680-1737) and passed on his death to his brother Jocelyn Sidney, 7th and last Earl of Leicester (d. 1743). These facts are recorded by George Vertue when he saw them at Leicester House in 1735 and in addition he records: “the writeing round these two pictures and the gilt mettal Frames first made for them was taken away and the two pictures sett in a gold Snuff box – by the present Earl of Leicester who had them from his Brother. But I wish them to be returned into their old Frames again” (Vertue, Notebooks, IV, p. 80). Horace Walpole records that the Earl of Leicester gave the snuff box to Field-Marshal Sir Robert Rich, Bt, (Anecdotes of Painting in England, London, 1782, ed, I, p. 257 note).
  • p.36Ed. Sam Smiles, West Country to the World's End. The South West in the Tudor Age London : Paul Holberton, 2013. ISBN: 9781907372520.
  • PP. 64-5Catharine MacLeod with Rab MacGibbon, Victoria Button, Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire.‎ Elizabethan treasures : miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver. London : National Portrait Gallery, 2019.‎ ISBN: 9781855147027‎
Collection
Accession Number
P.154-1910

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record createdFebruary 21, 2003
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