|'Young Man Among Roses' painted sometime between 1585 and 1595|
Miniature paintings were made with watercolour painted onto vellum and stretched over a piece of card about the size of a playing-card. Actually, they often were fitted onto playing-cards! The paints were often mixed in small shells and a dogs tooth fixed on the end of a small stick used to paint fine detail.
Hilliard was greatly influenced by the painting style of Hans Holbein who had died (of the plague) in 1547, and who had been court painter to Henry VIII. The style is fairly flat with strong contours and without the use of chiaroscuro, which is heavy use of light and shade. The artist reported that when he was asked to paint Elizabeth I she posed herself like this young man.
The style of the picture also tells us that the Tudor court in the 1580s was influenced by French style and was greatly francofile.
He was originally a goldsmith like his father before him and his father sent him to Geneva as a youth to protect him from persecution as they were part of the Protestant revolution that was sweeping the country at that time. In Geneva he was exposed to the French language and culture and that influence remained with him. Despite his success he always had financial problems and he was imprisoned for debt in 1617, two years before his death.
There is an extensive collection of his work in London's fabulous Victoria & Albert museum.
|Hilliard self-portrait aged about 30|