Robert Cecil (1563-1612), was the younger son of William Cecil by his second wife, Mildred Cooke. He was groomed by his father as his successor and after the death of Francis Walsingham, 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’.
Sir Robert is depicted against a blue background, with grey backswept hair and a chestnut-coloured half beard and moustache, wearing a black doublet with a white ruff and the ribbon of the Order of the Garter. The 5cm oval miniature has a gold border and is set within a rectangular dark-stained fruitwood veneer frame. It appears in the 1690 Devonshire Schedule, an inventory recording an immense bequest from Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire to her daughter Anne, Countess of Exeter: ‘A picture of the Treasurer Salisbury by Oliver’.