A Miniature of Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, attributed to Isaac Oliver (1565-1617), circa 1600.

An oval miniature, on vellum, with a gold border and set within a rectangular dark-stained fruitwood veneer frame, 5cm.

Robert Cecil (1563-1612), was the younger son of William Cecil, Lord Burghley by his second wife, Mildred Cooke.

He was groomed by his father as his successor and after the death of Francis Walsingham in 1590, Robert Cecil became Secretary of State.

He was knighted and gradually took over the role of his ageing father, becoming the Queen’s most important adviser.

He was a small man, affectionately referred to by Elizabeth as her ‘elf’.

The miniature is listed in the 1690 Devonshire Schedule or Deed of Gift, the inventory recording an immense bequest from Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire (1619-1689), to her daughter Anne, Countess of Exeter (1649-1703), which lists: ‘A picture of the Treasurer Salisbury by Oliver.’

Isaac Oliver was born in France to Huguenot parents and was brought to England as a young child, when the family was escaping from the Wars of Religion.

He studied with the great limner Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619) and painted many of the courtiers at the courts of Elizabeth I and James I.


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