Unidentified lady by Isaac Oliver

Unidentified lady

Isaac Oliver

Fine art poster

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We use a 280gsm fine art paper and premium branded inks to create the perfect reproduction.

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All products are printed in the UK, using the latest digital presses and a giclée printmaking process.

We only use premium branded inks, and colours are independently verified to last between 100 and 200 years.

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We print everything to order so delivery times may vary but all unframed prints are despatched within 2-4 days via courier or recorded mail.

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Unidentified lady by Isaac Oliver zoom

Unidentified lady

An oval miniature in watercolour on vellum, in a gilt surround set in an oval black wooden mount, possibly ebony, with incised foliate and floral decoration. The sitter is either a late 16th or early 17th century lady of high social status, probably no younger than about thirty. Allowing for some oxidation her short curled hair appears to be a light red, (possibly coloured), and her eyes hazel, which would be unusual for a natural red-head. She is shown bust-length turned slightly to her left but looking out to the viewer with a slight smile and she has a somewhat aquiline nose. She wears an elaborately embroidered gown predominantly in black and silver in a floral pattern, and an elaborate starched lace ruff and cap, with jewels in her cap and curled hair, and a deep necklace. Allowing for some loss of colour many of the stones appear to be jet, with rubies, but may be diamonds represented by silver leaf now oxidized. The shoulders of the gown extend beyond the image and the bodice bears the device of a standing hind facing left. On the reverse, an old inscription reads 'Q Elizabeth N Hilayard Strawberry Hill CSB'. The frame is clearly a pair with that of a miniature of Howard of Effingham (as by Hilliard, but possibly Lockey, F9522), which until at least 1917 was thought to be of Lord Hunsdon. The 'hind statant' device, in the form shown, is not common in heraldry and suggests no obvious families to whom the sitter might belong. Sir Christopher Hatton, whose device was, (famously, a golden hind passant was from lesser country gentry and never married. If that were the connection, however, and if other dates fit, especially costume, it might conceivably be Lady Elizabeth Hatton, (nee Cecil, 1578-1646), granddaughter of William, Lord Burghley, by his eldest son Thomas, 1st Earl of Exeter. In the early 1590s she married Hatton's nephew and heir, the widowed Sir William Newton (d. 1597), who changed his name to Hatton on inheritance in 1591. They had a daughter, but on his death without male issue she remarried in 1598 to the eminent lawyer Sir Edward Coke by whom she had two more. None the less, by 1600 it was proving an unhappy union. She strongly objected, (including through legal suits), to Coke taking husbandly control of her great inherited wealth, and made a point of continuing to call herself Lady Elizabeth Hatton, not Coke. Thereafter they mainly lived apart to his death in 1633. When young she was accounted a beauty. She had inherited Hatton House in London in 1597 and from about 1604 was a lively and indomitable court figure, including as a masquer. Unfortunately no portrait of her is recorded for comparison. Isaac Oliver (circa 1565-1617), of Huguenot birth, was pupil and subsequent competitor of Nicholas Hilliard, and after him probably the second best known 'limner' of miniatures of the late 16th and early 17th century, though in a somewhat different style.
Isaac Oliver

  • Image reference: F9599

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