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Under the Roman Sun: Landscape, Brigands, and the Late Grand Tour


Portrait of a Young Man, Probably Robert Devereux (1566–1601), Second Earl of Essex

Nicholas Hilliard (British, Exeter ca. 1547–1619 London)

Vellum laid on card
Oval, 1 5/8 x 1 3/8 in. (40 x 33 mm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1935
Accession Number:
  • Catalogue Entry


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Dated and inscribed (edge, in gold): Anõ · Dni· 1588 · Ætatis Suæ · 22 ·

  • Provenance

    Earls of Warwick, Warwick Castle; J. Pierpont Morgan, London (by 1906–d. 1913; cat., vol. 1, 1906, no. 48); his son, J. P. Morgan, New York (1913–35; his sale, Christie's, London, June 24, 1935, no. 173, as "Portrait of a Nobleman (said to be the 1st Lord Brooke)," by Isaac Oliver, to Knoedler for MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    London. Victoria and Albert Museum. "Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver," May 27–July 31, 1947, no. 36 (as "A Man").

    Edinburgh. Scottish Arts Council Gallery. "A Kind of Gentle Painting," August 16–September 14, 1975, no. 11 (as "Portrait of a Gentleman").

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 5, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 8.

  • References

    G[eorge]. C. Williamson. Catalogue of the Collection of Miniatures, the Property of J. Pierpont Morgan. 1, [deluxe edition]. London, 1906, pp. xiv, 54–55, no. 48, pl. XXVII, no. 1, as Attributed to Isaac Oliver, a portrait of Sir Fulke Greville, later 1st Lord Brooke.

    G[eorge]. C. Williamson. "Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan's Pictures: The English Miniatures, II." Connoisseur 17 (January 1907), p. 5, no. XXVIII, ill. p. 6.

    Harry B. Wehle. "Four Famous Miniatures." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 30 (October 1935), pp. 187–88, ill. on cover, accepts the attribution to Oliver, but rejects the identification of the sitter as Lord Brooke, who was thirty-four in 1588, whereas the inscription on the miniature gives the sitter's age as twenty-two in 1588.

    Carl Winter. Elizabethan Miniatures. London, 1943, p. 26, under no. VII, attributes it to Hilliard and notes that the same sitter is depicted in his "Young Man Among Roses" (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).

    Graham Reynolds. Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver. Exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 1947, p. 29, no. 36, states that the same sitter is depicted in the "Young Man Among Roses" and in a miniature in the collection of the Duke of Rutland.

    David Piper. "The 1590 Lumley Inventory: Hilliard, Segar and the Earl of Essex-II." Burlington Magazine 99 (September 1957), pp. 300, 303, fig. 17, states that two scholars ("Miss Merion" and "Mr. C. B. Collins of Dublin") have independently suggested that the sitter of "Young Man Among Roses" is the Earl of Essex, adding that the MMA and Rutland miniatures are said to represent the same sitter; is unconvinced by the identification.

    Erna Auerbach. Nicholas Hilliard. London, 1961, pp. 104, 106, 300–301, no. 79, pl. 81, expresses doubt that the MMA, London, and Rutland miniatures all represent the same sitter.

    Graham Reynolds. Nicholas Hilliard & Isaac Oliver. 2nd ed. London, 1971, unpaginated, no. 36, ill., states that "the suggestion made by Mr. D. T. Piper that [the sitter] may be the youthful Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, has not yet been generally accepted".

    Roy Strong. The Cult of Elizabeth: Elizabethan Portraiture and Pageantry. London, 1977, pp. 60–61, fig. 36, believes that the MMA and London miniatures probably depict the Earl of Essex, but is less certain about the Rutland miniature.

    Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, p. 273, fig. 493 (color).

    John Stanfield. Letter to Philippe de Montebello. November 23, 1981, encloses an unpublished manuscript arguing that the sitter for "Young Man Among Roses" is Christopher Marlowe, noting that Reynolds has stated that the same sitter is depicted in the MMA miniature.

    Mary Edmond. Hilliard and Oliver: The Lives and Works of Two Great Miniaturists. London, 1983, pp. 87–88, agrees that the same sitter seems to be depicted in the MMA and London miniatures, but is not convinced that this individual is the Earl of Essex, and is also uncertain that the Rutland miniature shows the same person.

    Graham Reynolds with the assistance of Katharine Baetjer. European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, pp. 10–12, 72, no. 8, colorpl. 8 and ill. p. 73, state that the sitter "is almost certainly" the same one in the London miniature, and "may also be" the one in the Rutland miniature; add that this sitter can probably be identified as the Earl of Essex.

    Katharine Baetjer. "British Portraits in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Summer 1999), p. 8, ill. (color).

    Karen Hearn. Nicholas Hilliard. London, 2005, pp. 60–61, no. 17, ill. (color).

  • Notes

    The same sitter is almost certainly depicted in Hilliard's "Young Man Among Roses" (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), and probably also in a miniature by Hilliard in the collection of the Duke of Rutland.

  • See also