Hilliard, Nicholas

Hilliard, Nicholas, 1537–1619, English miniature painter, son of a goldsmith. Trained first as a jeweler, he was court painter to Elizabeth and to James I. The first true miniaturist in England, Hilliard was self-taught. He painted meticulous linear portraits on card or vellum, even on the backs of playing cards. His works were highly individual, elegant and subtle, particularly well suited to their form. He and his pupil Isaac Oliver led their field. Hilliard's reputation gained him many distinguished Elizabethans as subjects. Much of his work is at Windsor Castle and in the private collections of England; Queen Elizabeth (1572) is in the National Portrait Gallery and his Portrait of a Youth (c.1588) is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, both in London. An essay on miniature painting, The Art of Limning, is attributed to Hilliard.

See monograph by E. Auerbach (1961).

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