Portrait of a Woman

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

Date: ca. 1590

Medium: Vellum laid on card

Dimensions: Oval, 1 x 7/8 in. (27 x 22 mm)

Classification: Miniatures

Credit Line: The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931

Accession Number: 32.100.311


This miniature was received by the Metropolitan Museum as a portrait of Elizabeth I (r. 1558–1603) by the school of Nicholas Hilliard. Scholarship has discovered that it is not in fact a portrait of Elizabeth I, but that of an unidentified sitter. However, the miniature has been proven to be an authentic work by Hilliard, painted with much refinement on the small scale he increasingly used throughout the 1590s. The reduced shadow of the sitter's face and delicate portrayal of the clothing and jewels, completed with an extraordinary attention to detail, are stylistic hallmarks of Hilliard's work.