American Art Association Andersen Galleries New York, May 1937 (bt. by a Private Collector);
Anonymous sale, Philips London, 17 April 2000, lot 164
Stylistically this miniature dates from the 1580s; a decade that saw Hilliard working at the height of his powers. The identity of the sitter however, remains open to debate. The lady, with her magnificent jewellery and sumptuous dress, clearly held a position of some importance at the Elizabethan Court. It has been suggested that she represents Lettice Knollys (1539-1634). Knollys was born in Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire. She was the mother of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, Queen Elizabeth I's famous courtier and was also the mother of the remarkable Penelope, Lady Rich. In her second marriage, Lettice Knollys was wife to Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth's favourite and a close friend of the artist Hilliard. After the death of the Earl of Leicester, Lettice married Sir Christopher Blount however, she continued to be addressed as Lady Leicester. A comparison with the full-length portrait of her at Longleat shows that her colouring and physiognomy was similar to that of the present sitter.
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