Saturday, February 22, 2014

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Pendant with a Miniature of Queen Elizabeth I, 1585-1600

Pendant with Portrait of
Queen Elizabeth I
Nicholas Hilliard, 1585
Case, 1600
Gold, Enamel, Rubies, Diamond
The Royal Collection
Within this small case of gold, enamel, rubies and an old table-cut diamond, lies an unexpected treasure. The case was constructed in 1600 expressly to house this miniature portrait of Elizabeth I which had been painted fifteen years earlier.

The painting on ivory was created by Nicholas Hilliard presumably to be eventually set into an item of jewelry. Elizabeth I was fond of giving lavish gifts of jewelry which often featured her image. No doubt, this was one of them. To whom she made the gift is uncertain, however, in the Nineteenth Century, the pendant was sold to the jewelers Rundell, Bridge & Rundell who quickly sold it to King George IV in 1816.

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