Portrait of a Woman

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

Date: 1597

Medium: Vellum

Dimensions: Oval, 1 7/8 x 1 1/2 in. (47 x 39 mm)

Classification: Miniatures

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1935

Accession Number: 35.89.2


Elizabeth I was nearing the end of her reign when, in 1597, Hilliard painted this miniature of an unknown lady wearing an embroidered bodice and sleeves, an enormous lace-edged ruff, and a quantity of gold and pearl jewelry. The delicate, angular lines, together with the precision and finesse of the artist's handling, bear witness to his training as a goldsmith. The sitter's pallor would have been fashionable at court and was perhaps cosmetically enhanced; the full cheeks and soft double chin must be uniquely her own.