An Unknown Man Aged 27 thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery

An Unknown Man Aged 27

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

Oliver could paint miniatures in the same jewel-like style as Nicholas Hilliard, but he was probably also trained in Continental art and could produce very different work, such as this miniature showing the influence of the Netherlandish print-maker Hendrik Goltzius. Inscribed on either side of the head ‘Ano Dm 1590/Aetatis Suae 27’, the sitter is thus identified as being 27 years old in the year 1590, which therefore discounts the erroneous identification on the later frame as a portrait of the essayist and statesman Sir Francis Bacon. Although the sitter remains unidentified, the miniature is still a striking example of a portrait drawn from life. By the use of a strong light cast on the man’s face from the front left, Oliver is able to manipulate shadow to create a more dramatic effect than is to be seen in Hilliard’s work of the same period.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour on vellum stuck onto card
Brief Description
Portrait miniature of an unknown man aged 27, watercolour on vellum, by Isaac Oliver, 1590.
Physical Description
Portrait of a man, half-length, in an oval frame with metal spirals at top; inscriptions in gold on either side of the head. The vellum on which the portrait is painted is in two pieces, a small, separate strip having been added to the left edge by the artist.
Dimensions
  • Height: 54mm
  • Width: 43.5mm
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, half-length, to front, of a man wearing a ruff, a black doublet and a cloak over his left shoulder, his left hand protruding from beneath the cloak.
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
'Ano Dni 1590 / AEtatis Suae 27.' (Inscribed on either side of the head)
Gallery Label
Credit line
Given by Mrs Emma Joseph
Object history
COLLECTIONS: Presented by Mrs Emma Joseph, widow Samuel S. Joseph, 1941; previous history unknown.

Subjects depicted
Summary
Oliver could paint miniatures in the same jewel-like style as Nicholas Hilliard, but he was probably also trained in Continental art and could produce very different work, such as this miniature showing the influence of the Netherlandish print-maker Hendrik Goltzius. Inscribed on either side of the head ‘Ano Dm 1590/Aetatis Suae 27’, the sitter is thus identified as being 27 years old in the year 1590, which therefore discounts the erroneous identification on the later frame as a portrait of the essayist and statesman Sir Francis Bacon. Although the sitter remains unidentified, the miniature is still a striking example of a portrait drawn from life. By the use of a strong light cast on the man’s face from the front left, Oliver is able to manipulate shadow to create a more dramatic effect than is to be seen in Hilliard’s work of the same period.
Bibliographic Reference
Strong, Roy. Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620.. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983. Cat. 144, p. 102. Part Citation: "Although faded, a superb ad vivum portrait by Oliver. The use of shadow by means of the strong light cast from the front left is already highly developed, totally different from Hilliard’s technique during the same period and vividly reflecting the influence of Netherlandish art and the engraved portraits of Goltzius. This is accentuated by the cast shadow in the background, giving a three dimensional chiaroscuro effect which the lettering, very much in Hilliard’s vein with flourishes to the A’s, denies. The edge of the miniature has been trimmed, thus losing most of the gold line; in addition there are a number of small damages in the background and minute paint losses to the costume. The erroneous identification of on the later frame as Francis Bacon can be discounted.
Collection
Accession Number
P.37-1941

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record createdFebruary 22, 2003
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