Miniature Portraits

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Artists and Ancestors --- Miniature Portrait Art Collection

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Artists and Ancestors --- Miniature Portrait Art Collection

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Framing Renaissance portrait miniatures in Paris and London

Céline Cachaud looks at the presentation of portrait miniatures by Nicholas Hilliard and his contemporaries, and alterations in the best way they had been displayed throughout the 16th & early 17th centuries.

Lucas Hornebolt or Horenbout (c.1490/95-1544), Henry VIII, 1525-27, watercolour on vellum, 5.3 x 4.Eight cm., Fitzwilliam Museum

Portrait miniatures in watercolour on vellum are stated to were invented both in France or in England at the start of the sixteenth century, and had been derived from Flemish illuminations. Indeed, the primary artists known to have painted miniature portraits originated within the Netherlands: Lucas Hornebolte from Ghent, for example, settled in London within the early 1520s, and Jean Clouet from Brussels become the main portraitist on the French court docket at the similar length. Today, a lot of these miniatures that have survived have lost their authentic settings, however – as Nicholas Hilliard wrote – they had been ‘fittest for the decking of princes bookes or to put in Ieuuells of gould’ [1]. In this text, we will be able to discuss the relationship between the serve as of portrait miniatures and their settings.

Gerard Hornebolt or Horenbout (c.1465-c.1541), St Louis presenting Louis XII and Anne of Brittany with St Anne conserving the Virgin & Child, watercolour & bodycolour on vellum (?), 1475-1515, Musée du Louvre, Department of Graphic Arts; RF 1699-bis-recto

They first seem in spiritual and prayer books as early because the 15th century. The commissioning client normally seems, kneeling in entrance of an altar or a non secular scene, showing him- or her- self as an obedient servant of God. Such miniatures are set at the start and the top of these manuscripts, in most cases just about or on the inner cover, and, when they are painted as a couple, continuously reply to each other, like the wings of an altarpiece. The borders of these miniatures are continuously gilded but can also be somewhat plain; painted miniature scenes through Hornebout, however, can have shaped and calmly ornamented frames.

Lucas Hornebolt (c.1490/95-1544; attrib.), historiated capital with miniature portrait of Henry VIII, from letters patent for Thomas Foster, National Art Library (no MSL/1999/6), © Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Photo: AndrewRT

There had been different varieties of manuscript wherein portraits might seem; one better-known instance is within the letters patent for Thomas Foster [2]. Here, the initial letter of the king’s name which opens the declaration has been adorned and given greater drive by way of being hired because the body for a miniature of Henry, painted to look as regardless that inserted into the bottom behind the letter, which has grow to be an integral mount for it. The king, peering out via this painted body, has much better immediacy and reality than if his whole determine have been incorporated into the border of the MS. He could also be present inside his personal name, giving immense force to the declaration it heads.

Later in the sixteenth century a brand new type of illumination appears, the place the spiritual and textual context disappears with the intention to highlight the face of the commissioning consumer. At least two primary examples are identified.

Anonymous, Henri II and Catherine de’ Medici, post-1559, watercolour & bodycolour on vellum, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Department of Manuscripts (N.a.l. 82, inner covers)

The first one is in a book of hours commissioned via King Francis I, however passed directly to Catherine de’ Medici; it is held within the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. The portraits show the brand new client together with her husband, Henri II. In this manuscript, thirty-eight miniatures in all are preserved, maximum of them painted all the way through the 16th century. Whilst some of them are built-in in the pages of the manuscript, maximum of them are pasted at the left-hand pages which might differently have remained unused, and have been generally set into other mounts before being fixed into the ebook. The miniature of Henri II is held in a border which echoes a easy but 3-dimensional architrave frame; the portrait of Catherine has a small trompe l’oeil moulding frame. Both are further framed in gilded linear border at the leather-based binding, with mitred corners and clasps.

Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), Elizabeth I and François, Duke of Alençon & Anjou, 19th century facsimile from 1581 original manuscript, British Library (Fac 218)

The second book of hours, which was given by means of the Duke of Alençon to Queen Elizabeth in 1581, is now misplaced. A facsimile is preserved in the British Library and reveals that it was once embellished with both portraits of the Queen and her suitor, painted at the covers.

Lucas Hornebolt (c.1490/95-1544), Henry VIII, 1525-27, watercolour on vellum, 5.3 x 4.Eight cm., Fitzwilliam Museum; PD.19-1949

As portraiture gained more autonomy, miniatures emerged from the pages of manuscripts to develop into unbiased portraits. This depiction of Henry VIII is again an early example, additionally by Lucas Hornebolt, who served because the king’s portraitist from 1525. It demonstrates the transition from MS ornament (as in the somewhat later portrait on the letters patent, above) to a portrait which could be worn like a jewel and given as a favour. In this situation, the painting has its own integral frame, with gilded angels in the spandrels who spin gold traces entwining the initials of Henry and Katherine of Aragon. This private, domestic element would possibly recommend that this isn't a gift of state, like those of Elizabeth I, underneath; it additionally combines satirically with the king’s age inscribed on the blue floor of the portrait, since at thirty-five he had already fallen in love with Anne Boleyn. The outer enamelled frame is lately below exam, to look if it is fresh or a later addition.

The present of a portrait miniature was to grow to be a popular gesture, hastened via the thirst of the French and English courts for sending diplomatic presents. The MS portraits of Elizabeth and Alençon, above, have borders which mimic the real gold frames by which they could had been set as free-standing miniatures, with garlands of imbricated bay leaves embellished with ornamental clasps. The first actual miniature portraits with movable frames, identified to have been used as diplomatic items, are portraits of the French princes: a couple of which is preserved within the Royal Collections.

Jean Clouet (c.1485-90?- 1540/41), François, Dauphin of France (1518-36), c.1526, watercolour on vellum on card, 6.2 cm. diam., Royal Collection Trust/ HM Elizabeth II 2017; RCIN 420070

These are mentioned to were painted by Jean Clouet in about 1526 – very early examples of the free-standing portrait miniature. The art work of each princes, François the dauphin and his little brother Henri, were given to Henry VIII by way of Marguerite of Alençon, Queen of Navarre. However, the case of this miniature, which would were made within the type of an elaborate gold locket, is now lost. Its present surroundings is the generic mount found on many miniatures within the Royal Collection, that have been commissioned for Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort. Interestingly, it consists of a garland of gold bay leaves, twisted with a spiral ribbon, relatively just like the border – painted Three hundred years previous – of Hilliard’s miniatures of Elizabeth and Alençon, above; that is blended with a smaller band of bay leaves on the sight edge.

If, in the first part of the 16th century, miniature portraits had been mostly produced within the royal courts, the artists have been forced to seek for new patronage right through the non secular wars which followed, and thus extend their market. As they accredited commissions from non-aristocratic clients, their costs decreased to mirror this, enabling a widening of the social classes able to have themselves depicted in miniature.

Hans Holbein (1497-1543), Portrait of Anne of Cleves, c. 1539, watercolour (gum) on vellum in grew to become ivory field in form of a flower, c.1580-1600, 6.1 cm. diam., & cover, © Victoria & Albert Museum, London. P.153:1, 2-1910

Isaac Oliver (1558-1617), Two younger sisters aged 4 & Five years outdated, 1590, watercolour on vellum on card, ivory box, 6.4 cm. diam., © Victoria & Albert Museum, London. P. 145-1910 & P.146-1910

They grow to be pledges of affection, to be exchanged all over betrothal and marriage ceremonies, or to be given inside of a circle of relatives ahead of a adventure was once undertaken. They are then frequently set into became ivory packing containers, which lately include most of the original surviving settings. The ivory box on Anne of Cleves’s portrait, moderately later that the portray, turns out to were made either in Germany or in Britain by an itinerant German craftsman; the bottom of the field, the rim of which paperwork an outer frame to the portrait, is carved with a triple frill of scallops and reversed scallops, echoing the very sculptural petals at the lid and creating a sympathetic setting for the light face and gauzy headdress inside [3].

For the wealthiest purchasers, miniatures may additionally be set into jewelled items to be worn as pendants or brooches, thus becoming a public display of love and or even a political statement. Several anecdotes are recognized which characteristic Elizabeth I kissing or appearing her affection in opposition to a suitor or a courtier via his image. Generally, the goldsmith in question is charged with all of the commission; he then sub-contracts the execution of the miniature portrait to a limner (a lot as with the commissioning of altarpieces in Renaissance Italy, where the frame got here earlier than the paintings).

François Clouet (c.1510/20-72) & François Dujardin (1543-87), pendant with the Portrait of Charles IX & of Catherine de Medici, watercolour on vellum on card, gold & enamel, pendant 6.1 x 4.7 cm., miniature 5 x 3.7 cm., with entrance & again covers, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. © KHM

For example, in 1571 Catherine de’ Medici sends to her goldsmith, François Dujardin, a listing of Christmas items which contains thirty-three portrait miniatures and illuminations, in addition to a bunch of eight jewels, a few of which might be to be embellished with pictures of her son, Charles IX of France. It is not, unfortunately, imaginable to link this fee with any surviving jewel lately; however, the pendant above gives us a clue of the kind of object commissioned by way of the French queen as a gift. The back bears the interlinked initials of the king and his mom in a wreath of enamelled end result and flowers, symbolizing the prosperity and fruitfulness engendered via the French crown. The front has the figures of Piety (with pass and bible) and Justice (with sword and scales) conserving an olive department of peace above the crown; the figures are finely labored, and the transparent enamelling over a gold flooring provides the scene a particular brilliance and readability. It illustrates Charles’s motto, ‘Pietate et Iustitia’, which is inscribed at the banner scrolling across the two columns, one in every of gold and one in every of ‘silver’ – every other a part of the king’s iconography [4].

Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), ‘The Drake Jewel’, 1579 and 1581, watercolour on vellum on card, gold, pearls, sardonyx cameo & teeth on gold, 11.7 cm. high, personal assortment, on mortgage to the V&A

 In about 1581 Queen Elizabeth I provides a identical pendant to the newly-knighted Sir Francis Drake. This pendant, now referred to as ‘The Drake Jewel’, accommodates a portrait of the queen in an tooth and gold case, with a cameo at the entrance. This form of jewel is identical in sort to the previous pendant by Clouet and Dujardin, which could have been offered by means of Catherine de’ Medici as a diplomatic gift to the Habsburg family, despite the fact that ‘The Drake Jewel’ also functions at a deeper and extra symbolic political degree [5]. The frame of the cameo is shaped of strapwork enamelled in crimson, preserving light blue forget-me-nots and alternating with fleurs-de-lys, set with 4 massive rubies and four diamonds. It is a Mannerist taste, related distantly to the scrolls and distorted classical decoration of a Mannerist image body. The aspect of the jewel containing the portrait has extra refined, filigree decoration, around a band of many small rubies.

Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), ‘The Gresley Jewel’, Portrait of Thomas & Catherine Gresley, c.1574, watercolour on velum; mount attrib. to Hilliard: gold, tooth on gold, sardonyx, rubies, emeralds, & pearls, 6.9 cm. high, private assortment. © Philip Mould Gallery

In the 1570s Elizabeth is alleged to have given the newly married Gresley couple any other pendant containing their miniature portraits. In each cases, Nicholas Hilliard is credited because the writer of the miniatures, and – having been trained as a goldsmith – may also have designed the jewelled case belonging to it. Hilliard (1547-1619), born the yr that Henry VIII died, served Elizabeth for far of her reign, and her successor, James VI & I, for much of his.

 Baptiste Pellerin (fl.1542 – d.1575; attrib. here) or Étienne Delaune (1518-95; attrib. by means of museum), model of a reverse & a development for a pendant, undated, black ink & pen on velum, 3.Nine x 3.Zero cm., & 6. 2 x 3.3 cm., Ashmolean Museum, WA1863.133.287 & WA.1863.133.422

Both settings display some affinities with the observe of French goldsmiths: the shape of the jewel is harking back to patterns drawn by way of French artists comparable to Baptiste Pellerin, a goldsmith rediscovered due to the numerous engravings diffused thru Étienne Delaune, to whom the drawings were up to now ascribed.

Nicholas Hilliard, ‘The Gresley Jewel’, and Georg Wechter, title page of a development guide, 1579, Renaissance ornament prints and drawings, fig 25

The structure of ‘The Gresley Jewel’ additionally has affinities with, as an example, designs by the Nuremberg goldsmith, Georg Wechter, whose pattern book was once published in 1579. The identify page cartouche of this book, with a framework of Mannerist leatherwork, pearled scrolls at the sides, morphing figures and flowers, is echoed by means of parts of the outer framework of the pendant [6]. The whole atmosphere is very colourful, the wide enamelled band containing the portraits being painted white and holding 8 rubies, alternating with blue enamel roundels, all showing to be strung on a gold thread, like a necklace. The supporting figures are erotes with tiny gold bows and arrows, and there is a small pediment cresting the whole, and a strapwork apron at the backside

Nicholas Hilliard, ‘The Gresley Jewel’, and Hans Collaert (c.1525/30-80), Antwerp, engraved design for a pendant, before1573, © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The opposite of the pendant, adorned with refined arabesques and vegetation, echoes – for example – parts of the patterns designed by way of Hans Collaert of Antwerp. Pattern books and engravings have been a fast method in which types, models and explicit forms of design may just shuttle across barriers; close industry hyperlinks between Britain and the Netherlands, and the German Hanseatic League (till Elizabeth expelled it in 1597), meant that artists, craftsmen and their patterns may just practice the mercantile currents.

Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619; &/or workshop, attrib.), Portrait of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, 1589, & opposite, enamel on gold & pearls, Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, Buenos Aires

Jean Picard (workshop), entrance cover of a marbled maroquine bookbinding for Jean Grolier, c.1540-47, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, P-YC-1276 

The opposite of these settings additionally testify the hyperlinks between French and English creative circles: as an example, a number of of the reverse facets of cases attributed to Hilliard is also in comparison, for example, to bookbindings made for the courtier Jean Grolier within the 1540s.

Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), Portrait, mentioned to be Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre, 1577, watercolour on velum, gold, teeth on gold & pearls, non-public collection. © Berger Collection

 Most miniature cases are fairly simple, with an oval enamelled mount patterned with painted leaves, scallops and beads, and ornamented with metal curlicues, scrolls and strapwork motifs because the hanging points for from one to a few pearls. However, one of the crucial extra opulent instances show considerable mastery within the box of goldsmithing, and will also be set with numbers of priceless stones.

Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), ‘The Heneage jewel’, watercolour on vellum, gold, teeth on gold, diamonds, rubies & rock crystal, 7. 0 x 5.1 cm., © Victoria & Albert Museum, London. M.81-1935

Queen Elizabeth offered miniature portraits to her maximum favoured courtiers, in a kind of political game. In return, these courtiers had been anticipated to fee a helpful case to carry the portrait, demonstrating through any such display of wealth their loyalty to their Queen, as, for example, ‘The Heneage jewel’ would possibly do. This has four other faces, with the front quilt, opposite, portrait and inside of quilt of the portrait, and two frames (back and front). The gold bust of Elizabeth is protected below a glass of rock crystal and bordered with an inscription figuring out her as ‘…Queen of England, France and Ireland’; the frame around it is enamelled forget-me-not blue and decorated with little pierced gold Mannerist cartouches crested with green leaves, between the 9 spectacular diamonds and rubies which are clasped throughout this body – the diamonds being crested with hooked scrolls enamelled in purple and white. The reverse of this body holds an enamelled painting on gold of an ark – apprarently the ark of the English Church, inside of an inscribed border – and is itself colored white, with the backs of the clasps (revealed to be formed like lilies) which hold the valuable stones picked out in pink, inexperienced and blue.

Nicholas Hilliard, ‘The Heneage jewel’, further faces

This frame also holds the miniature portrait of Elizabeth beneath the ark, the pierced white surround appearing to extend her great lace ruff, and the coloured enamels echoing the jewels she wears. The underside of the ark is painted with a pink rose, and surrounded through an extra inscription regretting that Elizabeth’s distinctive feature and good looks will have to now not be everlasting.

Today, only seventeen original jewelled instances live on, out of around 180 portrait miniatures produced through Hilliard, and regarded as authentic or ascribed to him. Around the similar quantity will have to be thought to be as surviving for this period normally; this is to say, fewer than 10% of the original instances live to tell the tale from the pieces which have come right down to us. Following on from this figure, as it is estimated that handiest 10% stay out of the overall selection of portrait miniatures that have been finished, that means that we simplest possess 1% of the choice of of jewelled mounts made for portrait miniatures in this length. Most of them should have been melted down or altered, with a purpose to use the jewels and gold as a resource in laborious times. The surviving ones are therefore even more helpful, as they're uncommon witnesses to a European court docket culture which is handiest now starting to disclose its private secrets and techniques.

Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), ‘The Lyte Jewel’, Portrait of James VI of Scotland & I of England, 1610-11, watercolour on vellum, teeth, gold, diamonds; miniature, lid closed & reverse. © Trustees of the British Museum



 Princely Magnificence: Court Jewels of the Renaissance, 1500-1630, exhibition catalogue, London, Debrett’s Peerage Limited & Victoria & Albert Museum, 1980

Artists of the Tudor Court : The Portrait Miniature Rediscovered, exhibition catalogue, Jim Murrell and Roy Strong (ed.), London, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1983

Erna Auerbach, Nicholas Hilliard, Londres, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961

Michèle Bimbenet-Privat, Les orfèvres parisiens de la Renaissance 1506-1620, Paris, Commission des travaux historiques de los angeles ville de Paris, 1992

Katherine Coombs, The Portrait Miniature in England, Londres, V&A Publications, 1998

Marianne Grivel, Guy-Michel Leproux & Audrey Nassieu Maupas, Baptiste Pellerin et l’artwork parisien de los angeles Renaissance, Paris, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2014

Diana Scarisbrick, Bijoux à portrait. Camées, médailles et miniatures des Médicis aux Romanov, Londres, Thames & Hudson, 2011


Céline Cachaud is an unbiased guide in artwork, that specialize in sixteenth and 17th century portrait miniatures in Paris. She graduated from the École du Louvre in 2015 and the École Pratique des Hautes Études in 2017. Her grasp’s thesis deals with Nicholas Hilliard’s shuttle to France (1576-1579) and its consequences each for his artwork, and for the renewal in the manufacturing of portrait miniatures in France on the end of the sixteenth century. She is preparing a PhD thesis project on this explicit subject, and on the principle of painting miniatures in Paris and London all the way through the Renaissance. She has published articles in, for instance, Connaissance des Arts; she additionally founded and runs the web assets, Hillyarde & Co, and Un Art Anglais ? for the promotion of the study of British Art in France.



by way of The Frame Blog 


 Unknown artist, ‘The Blairs Reliquary’, Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots, watercolour on vellum, 1 3/16 ins diam. (3 cm.), Eight x 6 cm. overall, framed 1610-22, & opposite, Blairs Museum Trust. T 1068 BLRBM

A foil to the miniature of James VI and I by means of Hilliard and its opulent setting in ‘The Lytre Jewel’, is formed by ‘The Blairs Reliquary’ with its miniature portrait of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots. This miniature was painted in 1586, however the reliquary body, which comprises the gold environment and the case at the reverse, is almost co-aeval with ‘The Lyte Jewel’, relationship between 1610 and 1622. It has Mary’s monogram on the again: ‘M.R’ for ‘Maria Regina’, and ‘A’ for ‘Albany’ (her husband Lord Darnley having been created Duke of Albany) [7]. This is blended with the names of eighteen different Catholic saints, including Carlo Borromeo, Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier [8], which by means of affiliation additionally provide Mary as a martyred saint.

Both facets of the pendant are decorated with low aid enamelled foliate ornament, with centred sprays on the again and a scrolling garland on the front incorporating culmination and plant life. This is in the spirit of Renaissance garland frames, maximum notably in those used by the Della Robbia family as three-d borders for their reduction tondi.  The flowers and fruit in these garlands are symbolic, and this appears to be true of the decoration of ‘The Blairs Reliquary’; there are daisies, signifying humility or meekness, pears for the love of Christ, lemons for constancy and pomegranates for resurrection. All these could simply were utilized to Mary as a Catholic martyr after her loss of life.


‘The Fettercairn Jewel’, 1560-80, gold, enamel & almandine garnet, 5cm., cover, interior & opposite, National Museums Scotland

‘The Fettercairn Jewel’ is, because it were, all frame and no content. It is a gold pendant locket which dates from about 1560-80, and almost no doubt once contained a miniature portrait – but this was once it appears intentionally removed from it someday. It used to be obtained in March this year (2017) by way of National Museums Scotland from the Forbes family of Fettercairn House, Aberdeenshire, with the assistance of the Art Fund. The entrance is ready with a big, more than likely garnet, panel between spandrels enamelled in black, white and green with high quality arabesques, and the back displays the determine of Hermes, messenger of the gods and information to the underworld, a canine, a parrot, birds and butterflies, all enamelled in sturdy transparent colors, like stained glass. Like ‘The Blairs Reliquary’, these motifs could also be symbolic, perhaps indicating that the original portrait may have been a posthumous image. As with so many different pendants, a pearl can have hung from the lower ring [9].

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The dressed in of miniature portraits as pendants or brooches in the 16th century, explaining and revealing the sheer opulence of many in their settings, is witnessed by means of their look in full-scale portraits – or even within the miniatures themselves – on both female and male sitters.

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (c.1561/62-1636; circle of), Portrait of Lady Denman/Denham/ Dormer, c.1595-1605, & element, Christie’s, October 2015

This portrait, possibly of Lady Denman, or, again, of Dorothy Dormer, depicts a lady close to the heart of the Elizabethan court, who wears logos and hues associated with the queen, and whose cameo portrait, putting from her bodice, is also that of Elizabeth herself. The cameo is framed in gold with an inner scalloped trend, most certainly in white tooth, and has a single pearl drop under. Portraits like this seem frequently to be worn asymmetrically, as here, on the aspect of the get dressed, or mounted to a sleeve , or worn as a pendant but pinned to the side.

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (c.1561/62-1635), A woman referred to as Elizabeth Knightley, 1591, o/panel, 36.seventy five x 28.25 ins (93.3 x 71.Eight cm.), & detail, Yale Center for British Art

Lady Knightley (?) additionally wears hers asymmetrically, on her sleeve, and once more it has a single pearl drop; but it is vitally another way embellished on the duvet – richly enamelled in what appears to be low-relief, with priceless or semi-precious gem stones embedded in a classical scene. This is difficulat to interpret, however includes a columned development or entrance, with two lovers earlier than a inexperienced tent (perhaps Psyche discovering Eros?), and two seated goddesses (Athena and Aphrodite?) within the foreground. If these are indeed the actors in this scene, then it is most certainly a love token: possibly a betrothal gift. It is finished with Mannerist mask on the bottom.

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (c.1561/62-1635), Sir Francis Drake, 1591, o/c, 116.8 x 91.4 cm., National Maritime Museum & detail of ‘The Drake Jewel’

Sir Francis Drake wears ‘The Drake Jewel’ centrally, hanging from his belt, the place it shines dramatically towards his black gown, the rubies picking up the scarlet in the mantling around his recently-granted coat of palms on the best left, the tropics defined on the globe ahead of him, and the warm tones in his face. The jewel seems to have received extra pearls striking from the bottom ring than the only large teardrop pearl proven within the portray, but its richness is evident, and Drake could have been depicted in a sable suit specifically to show the lavish gift of his queen.

Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), Portrait of a man in opposition to a background of flames, c.1600, watercolour on vellum on card, 6.Nine x 5.4 cm., © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Drake’s is a full-scale public portrait, advertizing his status and his courting with Elizabeth. At the other extreme is a very non-public miniature by means of Hilliard – the portrait of a person in dishabille towards a background of flames. He wears a miniature pendant himself, but turns the duvet outwards and the portray inward to his center, in an intimate gesture towards the liked who's the focus of the portray. Presumably the portrait used to be a gift to her, to let her know that he burnt with want for her? – despite the fact that there seems to be no signal that it had a canopy itself, so she may just no longer have worn it in public; possibly the sweetheart himself wore it, to try to move her? The face of the pendant depicted within the miniature seems to be as though it's adorned with an eagle: possibly the eagle who regularly tears out Prometheus’s liver, as a symbol of the torture the cherished is inflicting. Unusually the pendant is not completed with a pearl, however with a stone which echoes the grey tones of the quilt, within its garland of gold leaves.

Hilliard died in 1619, two years after his pupil, Isaac Oliver (c.1565-1617), who had also labored for the English court. Any legacy of Hilliard’s skill and style subsequently passed indirectly to Oliver’s son, Peter Oliver (1594-1648), any other court docket portraitist who carried on the model for the miniature pendant.

Henri Toutin (1614 – put up 1683) after Peter Oliver (1594-1648), Venetia Stanley, Lady Digby, 1637, enamel on gold, 4 15/Sixteen x Three 1/4 ins; body by means of Gilles Légaré (c.1610-post1685), Walters Art Museum

The portrait above and and its bizarre body, commissioned by means of Sir Kenelm Digby, is, in a way, associated with Hilliard’s burning man – an outpouring of love, but right here as a memorial of Digby’s lifeless spouse, Venetia Stanley.

Peter Oliver (1594-1648) after Van Dyck, Sir Kenelm & Lady Digby & youngsters in an ebony triptych (17th-18th century), containing miniatures of Venetia, Lady Digby and Lady Arabella Stuart set inside the doorways, & element; NationalMuseum, Stockholm

It is in accordance with a miniature by Peter Oliver, and was done by some of the earliest portraitists in teeth, Henri Toutin [10], in Paris, the place Digby himself used to be from 1635-36. The original portray via Peter Oliver was once almost definitely the only above, at the proper, moderately updated.

The frame of the version by means of Toutin was produced by means of the goldsmith Gilles Légaré, and represents a virtuoso development of the enamelled miniature body from the ornamental border of a jewel to one thing much more comparable to a carved wooden Mannerist image body.

Gilles Légaré (1610-85), name plate, Livres des ouvrages d’orfevrerie, engraving, 1663, revealed 1680-1700, © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Légaré was Louis XIV’s goldsmith and jeweller, noted for the peculiar talent he displayed in growing such frames. Peter Fuhring experiences Pierre-Jean Mariette mentioning this talent; he owned

‘…a miniature portrait of the pretty Countess d’Olonne painted by means of Jean Petitot after Pierre I Mignard. It was surrounded through an oval garland of vegetation in relief, painted in teeth via Gillas Légaré who… surpassed all those that practised the same métier…The abbé Fontenay echoed this appreciation, writing that Légaré’s ornamental frames, painted in teeth, may cross as true chefs-d’oeuvre, not just for the delicacy of the craftsmanship but in addition for the brilliancy of the well-applied colors. [11]‘

The frame of Lady Digby’s portrait is a outstanding fulfillment, considering its dimension, and that Légaré was simplest twenty-seven when he made it. The miniature itself is held in an overly slim border of dark blue banded with gold; that is supported via pierced scrolls in blue and gold entwined with inexperienced palm leaves, on which stand two elegantly curving and elongated figures. They may well be Adam and Eve, however may additionally be Apollo and Aphrodite, or Eros and Psyche, given Venetia Digby’s mythical beauty, and that this can be a memorial of her. The frame has the palms of Sir Kenelm and Lady Digby in a cartouche at the crest, and is surmounted by way of a scallop shell – most likely again a connection with Aphrodite.

Henri Toutin after Peter Oliver, & Gilles Légaré, Venetia Stanley, Lady Digby, 1637

Francesco Primaticcio (1504-70), Scenes from the historical past of Alexander, with supporting figures in stucco, 1541-44, L’escalier du roi, element, Château de Fontainebleau

Carved figural frame, oak, in the beginning parcel-gilt & polychromed, 1550-80, 15.8 x Eleven cm., general 48.5 x 28.Four cm., © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The figures at the body are very a lot in the spirit and style of Northern Mannerism, and may be influenced by way of the sculptures of Fontainebleau, which can be elongated and S-curved, and which also make stronger image frames. As the court jeweller, Légaré would have had get admission to to the palaces, and would most likely also have noticed prints of the Fontainebleau decorations. The oak body in the collection of the V & A presentations the same form of Northern sculpture utilized to a wooden picture or looking-glass body, with the figures of Adam and Eve on both sides, supported by means of pierced and scrolling Mannerist cartouches.

Légaré’s frame for the portrait of Venetia Digby is a miracle of the reinterpretation of such motifs, and of accommodating them to the scale of his work. It is a high level within the evolution of the miniature frame.


Henry Bone: framing enamel artwork > here


[1] Nicholas Hilliard, The Arte of Limning, R.Ok.R. Thornton & T.G.S. Cain (ed.), Manchester, Carcanet Press, 1992, p. 42

[2] Letters patent are documents recording, for instance, a grant made through the monarch to the individual invoked, and which aren't a non-public communique but a public file of the grant.

[3] What appears to be a drop of dew on the centre of the flower is an ivory plug, overlaying a hole where the ivory was once hooked up to the lathe. Information from Alan Derbyshire, head of Paper, Books & Paintings Conservation, V & A.

[4] See Robert Knecht, Hero or tyrant? Henri III, King of France, 1574-89, 2016, ch. 2

[5] The cameo is carved with two profiles, a white queen and an African emperor, representing the alliance Drake made with African slaves in Panama towards Spanish America

[6] See Janet Byrne, Renaissance ornament prints and drawings, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1981

[7] William Tudor-Jones, Finger-ring lore: historic, legendary, anecdotal, 2014

[8] Helen Smailes & Duncan Thomson, The Queen’s symbol: A birthday celebration of Mary, Queen of Scots, exh. cat., Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1987, p. 38. Information from Anne Dulau Beveridge, Curator of British & French Art, The Hunterian, Glasgow.

[9] The style of enamelling at the opposite of ‘The Fettercairn Jewel’ has been associated with the enamelled scenes and motifs of ‘The Darnley Jewel‘, a pendant which is not a frame, as it used to be now not made to contain a painting (even if bits of it open to disclose trademarks and inscriptions).

[10] See Toutin’s portrait of Louis XIV as a boy within the Royal Collection.

[11] Peter Fuhring et al., eds, A kingdom of images: French prints within the age of Louis XIV, 1660-1715, Getty Publications, 2015, p. 135

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