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Isaac Oliver (c. 1565-1617)

Anne of Denmark (1574-1619) c. 1611-12

Watercolour on vellum laid on playing card (ace of clubs) | 5.3 x 4.2 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 420041

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  • The inscription on the reverse of this miniature is in the same form as others found on miniatures listed in Abraham Van der Doort's catalogue of the miniatures in the collection of Charles I (1639/40). It can be associated with the miniature: 'don upon the right lighte the 5th picture beeing Queene Anne of famous memory of the - same biggnes upon a redd Ovall Card in a - white haire dressing in a blwe habbitt adorned wth pearles and a picture Box at her left breast' and '5 Don by Isack Olliver after the life'. The miniature, which was housed in a frame containing eight miniatures of Charles I's forebears, may have been inherited by Charles I from James I or from his mother, the sitter.

    Anne of Denmark was renowned for her taste in elaborate jewels. The crowned S pinned to her standing whisk probably makes reference to her mother, Sophie of Mecklenburg; the distinctive crowned C4 jewel which the Queen is seen wearing in her hair was given to her by her brother, Christian IV, King of Denmark, in 1611, and establishes an earliest possible date for the miniature. These jewels emphasise her own dynastic importance in its own right, separate to that of consort to the English king. Isaac Oliver had been working in the service of Anne of Denmark as her official limner since 1605, and this was only one of a number of portrait miniature types of her which he produced (see also 420025).

    The present miniature was re-framed along with almost the entire collection of miniatures in the Royal Collection at Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's instigation in the 1850s. Miniatures such as this would, however, originally have been worn in elaborate jewelled or enamelled oval lockets worn on ribbons around the neck or pinned to the body, often close to the heart. Such a 'portrait box' can be seen in the present miniature suspended by a pink ribbon at Anne of Denmark's breast lower right.

    Inscribed on the reverse in ink: 6 1635.

    Probably James I; Charles I; subsequently sold by recovered by Colonel Hawley in 1660-61; Charles II and subsequent royal inventories

  • Medium and techniques

    Watercolour on vellum laid on playing card (ace of clubs)


    5.3 x 4.2 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external)

    6.5 x 5.3 cm (frame, external)