On vellum, in a rectangular dark-stained fruitwood veneer frame, 15.5cm high. Signed and dated ‘Sa. Cooper/pinxce A° 1642’.
This is the earliest recorded signed and dated miniature by Samuel Cooper.
Lady Elizabeth Cecil (1619-1689), second daughter of William, 2nd Earl of Salisbury, married in 1639 William, 3rd Earl of Devonshire (1617-1684).
She became a noted collector and in her will, she bequeathed the entire contents of her private apartments at Chatsworth, to her daughter Anne (1649-1703), who in 1670 had married John, 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700).
Amongst many wonderful and diverse items, there were a number of miniatures, including this one; a group which formed the nucleus of the Burghley House collection of paintings.
The immense bequest, inventoried as the 1690 Devonshire Schedule or Deed of Gift, lists: ‘A picture of the late Countess of Devonshire by Cooper in white.’