In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries there was one art form in which English artists excelled above all their continental European counterparts: the painting of miniatures. This fascinating book explores the genre with special reference to two of its most accomplished practitioners, Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, whose astounding skill brought them international fame and admiration.
Four centuries ago, England was famous primarily for its literary culture – the dram a of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson and the works of the great lyrical and metaphysical poets. When it came to the production of visual art, the country was seen as something of a backwater. However, there was one art form for which English artists of this period were renowned: portrait miniature painting, or as it was known at the time, limning. Growing from roots in manuscript illumination, it was brought to astonishing heights of skill by two artists in particular: Nicholas Hilliard (1547–1619) and Isaac Oliver (c .1565–1617).
This richly illustrated book, like the exhibition it accompanies, explores what the portrait miniature reveals about identity, society and visual culture in Elizabethan and Jacobean England.