English, c. 1610
The Victoria & Albert Museum
A pendant of enamel and jewels, this lovely piece contains the miniature portrait of an unknown lady wearing a lace ruff, pearl drop earrings and a pearl in her hair. A hint of a jeweled hair ornament can be seen at the back of her head.
As we can see, these portrait miniatures, especially those of the Seventeenth Century, tended to be more, as the V&A says, “intimate and spontaneous” likenesses than the more formal large-scale oil painting portraits of the era. This owes in large part to the speed with which the artist painted them and, the use of watercolors for the miniatures. Since watercolors dry more quickly than oils, there’s an urgency in the painting. Furthermore, a more intimate style was desired for such miniatures since they were intended to be viewed privately or, like this one, worn as a memento. This circular gold pendant is set with a carnelian on the reverse. A border of emeralds graces the edge. The suspension loop is white enamel on gold. It was made in England in 1610.