Audio: Isaac Oliver's portrait of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565-1601)
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Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565-1601), standing full-length, in embroidered white doublet and hose, gilt-studded armour collar, lace-trimmed lawn collar and ruff, wearing the Lesser George of the Order of the Garter around his neck on a blue ribbon, and the garter of the Order of the Garter around his left calf, a fencing sword hanging at his left side, attached to a gold belt around his waist, in an interior, his right hand holding a Marshal's staff and resting on a table covered with a mauve velvet cloth and set with a gilt-edged plumed helmet, standing on a carpet; draped background with curtain
on vellum
rectangular, 8.1/8 in. x 5.1/8 in. (208 mm. x 129 mm.), tortoiseshell frame with gold mount
King Charles I (1600-1649) Collection.
Meyrick Collection, Goodrich Court, by 1869.
John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) Collection, New York; Christie's, London, 24-27 June 1935, lot 176 (51 gns. to Goldschmidt).
With D. S. Lavender (Antiques) Ltd., in 1997 (as from the 'Goldschmidt-Rothschild Private Collection').
G. C. Williamson, Catalogue of the Collection of Miniatures, the Property of J. Pierpont Morgan, London, 1906-7, I, p. 55, no. 51, pl. XXIX.
B. Long, British Miniaturists 1520-1860, London, 1929, p. 320.
D. Piper, 'The 1590 Lumley Inventory: Hilliard, Segar and the Earl of Essex - II', The Burlington Magazine, no. 654, XCIX, September 1957, p. 300.
'In the Auction Rooms - The Morgan Miniatures', The Connoisseur, XCVI, 1935, p. 116.
O. Millar, 'Abraham van der Doort's catalogue of the collections of Charles I', The Walpole Society, XXXVII, 1958-1960, p. 108, no. 23 described as 'Done by Isack Olliver by the life' and Appendix, p. 215, no. 1 (as 'The Earle of Essex att length / in a white Habite. By old / Isaack Oliver').
L. R. Schidlof, The Miniature in Europe, Graz, 1964, III, pp. 602 (described as 'excellent'), 1016, illustrated in colour IV, pl. 432, no. 885.
R. Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1969, I, p. 117.
P. J. Noon, English Portrait Drawings & Miniatures, New Haven, 1979, p. 4.
G. Reynolds, The Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, London, 1999, p. 86.
R. Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature, London, 1983, pp. 162 and 204, no. 207, illustrated p. 163.
R. Strong, Artists of the Tudor Court, London, 1983, p. 106, described as, 'The most important version [of the 2nd Earl of Essex by Isaac Oliver] must have been the full-length one now in a private collection [...] which once belonged to Charles I.'
London, South Kensington Museum, Catalogue of the armour and miscellaneous objects of art known as the Meyrick collection: lent by Colonel Meyrick, of Goodrich Court, Herefordshire, 1869, p. 118, no. 1530.
Geneva, Musée d'art et d'histoire, Chefs-d'oeuvre de la miniature et de la gouache, 1956, no. 324 (lent by a private collector).
Special notice

Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.

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Katharine Cooke
Katharine Cooke

Lot Essay

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565-1601) was the elder son and heir of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex (1539-1576) and his wife Lettice née Knollys (1543-1634). After his father's death in 1576, Essex became a ward of the crown and was the responsibility of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Lord Treasurer. After studying at Trinity College, Cambridge, he joined his stepfather, the Earl of Leicester, at court in 1585, and subsequently accompanied him to war in the Netherlands, returning in 1586 as a war hero. He quickly became a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I and was made Master of the Horse. In 1589, he took part in Sir Francis Drake's English Armada, after the Queen specifically forbade him from going. He returned upon the failure of the English fleet to take Lisbon. In 1590, he secretly married Frances (1567-1632), the widow of Sir Philip Sidney, but the marriage was only revealed when it became clear that the Countess was pregnant, in 1591. Shortly afterwards she gave birth to Robert Devereux, Lord Hereford (later 3rd Earl of Essex). They had two more sons and four daughters together, despite Essex's dalliances with other women at court. Later that year, the Earl left to lead English forces in Normandy, alongside the army of King Henri IV of France, but returned unsuccessful in January 1592. He was a Privy Councillor between 1593 and 1595, during which time he focussed on foreign policy, European intelligence gathering and correspondence. Enjoying a high public profile, Essex received as many dedications as the Queen during the 1590s and was a key patron of portraiture, poetry and music, as well as a poet himself. During the late 1590s, Essex campaigned to be promoted as the Queen's next Chief Minister, after Lord Burghley's retirement, and achieved a small victory at Cadiz, although this had little long-term impact on Spain's military capabilities. It was on this journey that Essex also grew his iconic 'square' beard, which was painted by Marcus Gheeraerts the younger and Isaac Oliver. A failed expedition to Spain resulted in Essex's reduction in popularity at Court, although he retained the Queen's favour and was created Earl Marshal in 1598. That same year, however, after an enormous argumentwith the Queen over the choice of a new Lord Deputy of Ireland, Essex removed himself from court. In 1599, as the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he sailed to Ireland to command the Queen's forces against the Earl of Tyrone, (as part of the Nine Years' War, 1594-1603), but contrary to the Queen's orders, conferred a large number of knighthoods on his soldiers, wasted funds, garrisoned his men, all of which resulted in several defeats. Sensing that victory was no longer in his grasp, Essex reached a truce with Tyrone, independent of orders from the Crown. Although Essex was ordered not to return to court, he did, and was subsequently imprisoned. On 5 June 1600, he was charged with acts of insubordination whilst in Ireland and detained underhouse arrest, but granted his liberty on 26 August. Ruined, after the source of his basic income - the customs on sweet wines - was not renewed, disappointed and worried that the Queen was being misadvised, Essex led a band of 300 men to march into the City in an attempted coup against the government. However, the gates were shut, and Essex and his core band of men were arrested, tried for treason and condemned to death. He was beheaded at the Tower of London on 25 February 1601 - the last person ever to be beheaded there. His reputation posthumously, however, remained a good one, and recent historians have praised his military strategy, intelligence gathering and patronage of eminent scholars.
The present portrait compares with an oval, head and shoulders miniature by Isaac Oliver in the British Royal Collection in which Essex is depicted with his 'square' beard, but wearing a black doublet (see G. Reynolds, The Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, London, 1999, pp. 85-86, no. 49). Both miniatures compare with an oval head and shoulders drawing by Oliver in the Yale Center for British Art, (see P. Noon, English Portrait Drawings and Miniatures, New Haven, 1979, p. 4, no. 2), illustrated opposite, which is most likely an ad vivum sketch or a 'pattern' portrait to serve as a model for future miniatures. These portraits mark Essex's new patronage of Oliver and a shift in his icononography from the romantic Knight of the Tiltyard to statesman. The present work was clearly influenced by the large-scale oil on canvas portrait of Essex by Marcus Gheeraerts, now in the Bedford Collection at Woburn Abbey. Cabinet miniatures were large-scale miniatures in which the sitters are depicted full-length instead of the usual head and shoulders or half-length format. They appeared towards the end of the 16th century and tend to depict wealthy and ostentatious figures, concerned with their own image. The present work compares closely in composition with a cabinet miniature of Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset (1590-1624), also by Isaac Oliver, signed and dated 1616, now in the Victoria & Albert Museum (inv. no. 721-1882). The present full-length cabinet miniature was originally in the collection of King Charles I (1600-1649) and is included in the inventory of the King's limnings, drawings and prints, drawn up by the royal curator Abraham van der Doort (d. 1640). In this inventory (according to the Royal Archives manuscript, f. 53), the miniature is described as: 'Done by Isack / Olliver by the / life. / Item another Picture of the deceased Earle of Essex / in a white habbitt wt<\sup>h<\sup> his left hand on his / side, and with his right hand houlding A / Marshalls staffe upon a Lavender Cullor'd / Table and a head peece with a white feathr<\sup> / standing upon the Table and under his / feete a Carpett in a black frame and a- / shiver over it withoute a Glass . done upon- / the . lighte. / of 8½. of 5.'
It is also mentioned in a separate manuscript, circa 1640, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which catalogues the works of art in the Long Gallery, Chair Room and Cabinet Room in Whitehall Palace and the pictures in the Gallery at St James's Palace. According to Oliver Millar in The Walpole Society, XXXVII, p. xxiii, in this separate list, 'it seems that the miniatures are listed as they were actually disposed in their 'shutting Cases with Locks and Keyes''. In this list, the present work is described as, 'The Earle of Essex att lenght / in a white Habite. By / old Isaack Oliver' (op. cit., p. 215, no. 1). It is grouped with four other miniatures, presumably those it was hung next to; a 'limning' of the Miracle of Fishes, by 'William Beare', a portrait of the 'Emperor Rodolphus', by 'Freshly', a half-figure of Prince Edward in red by Peter Oliver, and 'A halfe figure of Prince Henry / in Armour, and a sett ruffe, / By him in the Lanskipp Three / Tents By old Isaack Oliver, / being the largest Peece in limmning / of his Mat<\sup>i<\sup>e<\sup>'<\sup>s<\sup>' (op. cit., p. 215, nos 2, 3, 4, and 5). This last limning is now in the Royal Collection (inv. no. 420058), see G. Reynolds, The Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, London 1999, pp. 91-93.
Abraham van der Doort, originally a Dutch artist, had first caught the attention ofHenry, Prince of Wales, who had promised him the position of Keeper to his own Cabinet, designed by Inigo Jones. The prince died shortly afterwards, and his own Cabinet collection was bequeathed to his younger brother Charles (later King Charles I), and it is tempting to think that the present lot may have formed part of this bequest. Abraham van der Doort went with it. A new Cabinet Room was later built by Charles I at Whitehall Palace and van der Doort served as the Keeper there, and the first Surveyor of the King's Pictures, from 1625. This Cabinet Room was situated next to the King's bedchamber and formed part of the King's Privy Lodgings, which were fitted with triple locks to ensure maximum security. The Cabinet Room contained all ofthe miniatures, drawings, books and coins belonging to the Crown, and was distinct from the Pictures Collection. The 'limnings' collection was formed of around eighty miniatures, mostly depicting members of the royal family, King Charles I's ancestors, although some other important figures, such as the Earl of Essex were also included. Artists represented included Hans Holbein the Younger, Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver. Most miniatures were of the traditional small-scale format, but the new type of cabinet miniatures by both Isaac Oliver and his son, Peter (who had made ten copies of Italian renaissance paintings), were also included. The contents of the Cabinet Room, along with the, 'Jewels, Plate, Furs, Hangings, Statues, Medals, Pictures, Wardrobe-stuff, and all other Household-stuff and Utensils whatsoever, and [contents of] all Libraries' which had been specified in the second 'Act for sale of the goods and personal estate of the late King, Queen and Prince,' passed in 1651, were sold in order to raise funds for the new government. On his accession in 1666, King Charles II tried to recreate his father's Cabinet Room at Whitehall, and although it included almost 600 objects, modelled on the number of objects in his father's cabinet, he was unable to recover a number of original items and admitted himself that it was not what it had been previously.
The whereabouts of this cabinet miniature between the sale of the late King's goods and the late-nineteenth century, is currently unknown. It appeared in an exhibition at the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria & Albert Museum) in 1869, as part of a large group of objects, consisting mainly of arms and armour, on loan from Colonel Meyrick of Goodrich Court. Lieutenant-Colonel Augustus Meyrick was the second cousin of the collector and author Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick (1783-1848). He had inherited both the estate and contents of Goodrich Court, Herefordshire, a gothic villa built by Sir Samuel in 1828, and his superlative collection of arms and armour. Sir Samuel's collection also included several hundred items bequeathed to him by the famous antiquarian Francis Douce (1757-1834), whose collection of manuscripts forms the basis of the collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It is not known whether the present work entered the collection via Douce, Sir Samuel or Colonel Augustus, but it is tempting to think that it may have been acquired by Sir Samuel who was so passionate about arms and armour. After it was exhibited in 1869, Augustus Meyrick offered the entire collection to the nation, however, this offer was rejected and the collection split up; the estate and some of the contents sold to George Moffat M. P. (d. 1878), the library sold Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 20 July 1871; some pictures sold Christie's, 23 November 1872, and the rest of the collection sold privately to collectors and dealers including Augustus Wollaston Franks (1826-1897), who bequeathed items from the Meyrick collection to the British Museum, and the Parisian dealer Frédéric Spitzer, who later sold his entire armour collection to Sir Richard Wallace (1818-1890), whose widow Lady Wallace, donated the family's art collection to the nation. It is not known to whom the present work was sold, but by 1906 it was in the collection of John Pierpont Morgan, as was another miniature from Meyrick's collection, that of King Henry VIII, painted by Hans Holbein the Younger, which had formed part of Douce's bequest (see S. Meyrick, 'The Doucean Museum', The Gentleman's Magazine, 9 February 1836, p. 251, no. 25). After the dispersal of the collection, this work by Holbein was briefly with the Esterházy family in Vienna, before being purchased privatelyby Pierpont Morgan.

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