A Miniature of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, by Isaac Oliver (1565-1617), circa 1600.

An oval, on vellum, in a rectangular dark-stained fruitwood veneer frame, 4.8cm.

Robert Devereux (1566-1601), was a soldier, courtier and favourite of Queen Elizabeth I.

However, after an unsuccessful military campaign led by him in Ireland and an attempted coup against the Queen, he was impeached for treason and executed in 1601.

The miniature was part of an enormous bequest from Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire (1619-1689), to her daughter, Anne, Countess of Exeter (1649-1703), which was recorded in an inventory known as the 1690 Devonshire Schedule, or Deed of Gift and which lists: ‘A picture of the late old Earle of Essex.’

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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