Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke
12 of 34 portraits by Nicholas Hilliard
Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke
by Nicholas Hilliard
watercolour on vellum, circa 1590
2 1/8 in. (54 mm) diameter
Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and allocated to the Gallery, 1988
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke (1561-1621), Writer and literary patron. Sitter in 11 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), Miniature painter. Artist associated with 34 portraits.
This portraitback to top
It was at Mary Sidney's suggestion that her brother Philip wrote his celebrated Arcadia. She worked together with her brother on a metrical translation of the Psalms, and after his death took under her protection many of the writers to whom he acted as patron. In this portrait by Hilliard, Mary appears to be wearing an unusual necklace, the white beads of which are dotted with black. The necklace is in fact a string of pearls. It was Hilliard's practice to paint pearls with burnished silver highlights and over time the silver has oxidised and turned black.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Tudor Portraits Resource Pack, p. 35
- Charles Nicholl, Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, 2015, p. 70
- Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 114
- Cooper, Tarnya, Searching for Shakespeare (hardback), 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 29 May 2006), p. 186
- Cooper, Tarnya, Searching for Shakespeare, 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 29 May 2006), p. 186
- MacLeod, Catharine, Tudor Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 35
- Nicholl, Charles, Character Sketches: Elizabethan Writers, 1997, p. 30
- Nicholl, Charles, Insights: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, 2005, p. 56
- Rogers, Malcolm, Master Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery, 1993 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 August to 23 October 1994), p. 11
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 487
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 73
- Walker, Richard, Miniatures: 300 Years of the English Miniature, 1998, p. 22
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
Events of 1590back to top
Current affairsKing James VI of Scotland brings his wife Anne of Denmark to Edinburgh for her coronation at Holyrood Abbey.Death of Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth I's Principal Secretary and spymaster.The colonial governor John White returns to Roanoke Island (in present day North Carolina, USA) to find the settlement deserted. The lost colonists include his granddaughter Virginia Dare, the first English child to be born in America.
Art and scienceThe courtier, poet and soldier Sir Philip Sidney's pastoral romance Arcadia is published posthumously. It is one of the first English vernacular works to achieve a European readership, with translations into French, German, Dutch and Italian. The poet and administrator Edmund Spenser publishes the first three books of The Faerie Queene, an epic allegorical poem in praise of Queen Elizabeth I.
InternationalHenry IV of France defeats the Catholic League under Charles, Duke of Mayenne at the Battle of Ivry. The King marches on Paris before being driven back by Catholic forces sent by Philip II of Spain. Abbas I, Shah of Persia makes peace with the Ottoman Empire, allowing him to campaign agaist the Uzbeks. Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeats the Hojo clan at the Siege of Odawara, Japan. The victory completes Hideyoshi's military reunification of Japan.
See this portrait
On display in Room 3: miniature case at the National Portrait Gallery
Exhibitions and displays
- Framing the Face: Collars and Ruffs
Until 31 December