portrait miniature of a nobleman c1615 circle of isaac oliver

Portrait Miniature of a Nobleman c.1615; Circle of Isaac Oliver.



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Painted on copper in a fine 17th century Italian frame.
This is an exquisite miniature portrait only 8 cm tall, yet the artist has captured the sitter's character. He wears the fashionable rather soulful look of poetic melancholy which was all the rage at the time. His expensive clothing is depicted in careful detail; at this time this was of vital importance ... aristocrats and the gentry would spend fortunes on their clothing, typically a fine outfit would have cost as much as a decent sized farm, if not more.
The finely sculpted frame is later than the portrait, probably Florentine, it is also a work of art by a talented wood carver. Set within this lovely frame the miniature assumes the characteristics of a piece of jewellery as well as being a portrait.
This is a rare combination of frame and painting and, despite its small size, it has great impact and a powerful presence.
ISAAC OLIVER (C. 1565-1617) was the pupil of the famous miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard and his earliest known portrait miniatures date from the 1580s. Like Hilliard, he was the son of a goldsmith; Oliver's father, Pierre Olivier, was of French Huguenot descent. Although Oliver worked all his life in England, he retained close artistic links with the Continent and visited Venice in 1596. His cosmopolitan approach to portraiture and his broader terms of visual reference gave his output a more sophisticated appearance that appealed to a younger generation of patrons. In 1605 Oliver was appointed Limner to Anne of Denmark, Queen of James I, and he was Painter (1608-12) to their eldest son, Henry, Prince of Wales.
Oliver continued to emphasise his French origins which may account for a certain elegance of style that the artist was keen to portray in his miniatures.
Although he predeceased Hilliard by two years, his reputation had long since eclipsed that of his master. There are seventeen portrait miniatures by Isaac Oliver in the Royal Collection and two drawings. Ten of the miniatures are of royal subjects; five of these can be traced to Charles I's collection.
SIZE: Height 12 x width 10 inches including the frame. The portrait 3.25 inches tall.
PROVENANCE: Private Collection, London.
Internal Ref: 9216


Height = 305 cm (120")
Width = 25.5 cm (10")
Depth = 7 cm (3")

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