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Hardstone carvings

Portrait cameo bust of Philip II of Spain (1527-98), in profile to the left. He wears a cuirass with a lion’s mask epaulette, a ruff and cloak. 

The high quality of this gem, and the intense characterisation of the sitter, justifies an attribution to

Philip II of Spain ©

It was common in the courts of Germany to create a Wunderkammer or cabinet to house a collection of small treasures and exotic curiosities. Queen Caroline created such a space at Kensington Palace, where she compiled a remarkable collection of hardstone carvings. Some of these, shown here, reflected her interest in the history of the princely houses of Europe, the highlights being the two portraits of Elizabeth I which are carved to the highest quality.

After Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543)

Henry VIII and Prince Edward

English

Ring

? French

James I

Attributed to Jacopo Nizolla da Trezzo (c. 1515-89)

Philip II of Spain