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Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset

by Nicholas Hilliard
watercolour on vellum, circa 1611
1 3/4 in. x 1 3/8 in. (44 mm x 35 mm) oval
Purchased, 1962
Primary Collection
NPG 4260


Small strokes of translucent grey paint have…
The folds of the ruff have been defined with…
The thick-bodied paint for the edging of the…
Detail of the doublet buttons with tarnished…

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), Miniature painter. Artist associated with 34 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This miniature was probably painted around 1611, a momentous year for Carr in which he was created Viscount Rochester, installed as a Knight of the Garter and made keeper of Westminster Palace. He is shown in flamboyant costume with the blue ribbon of the Garter badge around his neck. The miniature is executed in watercolour on vellum which has been stuck to a playing card from the suit of diamonds.

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1611back to top

Current affairs

Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Bancroft, dies and is succeeded by George Abbot. Abbot's attempts to unite the churches of Scotland and England in 1608, found favour with the king, probably assisting in his preferment to the archbishopric.

Art and science

Cartographer John Speed publishes the first comprehensive atlas of Great Britain.
Under the patronage of James I, the King James Bible is published, the most famous English translation of the scriptures.
Playwright Benjamin Jonson, with designs by Inigo Jones, stages his court masque, Oberon, at Whitehall Palace.


The betrothal of the ten year old French king, Louis XIII, to the daughter of Philip III of Spain, the equally young Infanta, Anne, is agreed in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, cementing a political alliance between their two respective countries, whilst raising Protestant fears in England.

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