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Abstract

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This article assesses the iconography, attribution, and sitter’s identity of one of the earliest impresa miniatures: Man in an Armillary Sphere (1569). It identifies the motto as a line in a sonnet by Pietro Bembo, examining the symbolism of the armillary sphere in relation to this motto and in the wider context of Elizabethan culture. It concludes by offering suggestions for the sitter’s identity, including Sir Henry Lee, Thomas Whithorne, and Hugh Fitzwilliam.

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Man in an Armillary Sphere (1569), now at Waddesdon Manor, has a strong claim to be the earliest impresa portrait miniature: a sub-genre developed chiefly by Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver from the mid- to late 1580s onward (Fig. 1).1 An impresa miniature is a portrait in which the likeness is accompanied by a combination of symbolic image and motto, which are intended to convey a personal message about the sitter. Painted in a round format and with a blue background, the Waddesdon miniature depicts a man in bust length, set at a slight angle to the picture plane.2 Dressed in black with a high, tight ruff, he wears a soft, bejewelled hat of the type fashionable in England in the 1560s and early 1570s.3 His neatly trimmed beard and more exuberant moustaches, sweeping over the edges of his pursed lips, are equally à la mode, as may be seen by comparison with a similarly styled (though younger) gentleman, limned in the same year (Fig. 2).4 Our man’s curly ginger hair frames a high forehead with slightly furrowed brow, as he fixes us with pale blue eyes. He holds his right hand to the side of his head, perhaps resting in a pose of fashionable melancholy, or alternatively cupping his ear, as though listening to something.5 His left hand rests on the bars of an armillary sphere in which he seems to be encased, crooking his little finger over its bottom lateral bar. This widely used astronomical instrument modelled the Ptolemaic world system through a series of rings denoting the fixed, circular orbits of the planets and stars around an immobile earth.6 The central, flat band of the miniature’s armillary (representing the ecliptic) bears on its inside a date, 1569, and on its outside a motto in Italian, “SO + CHE + IO + SONO + INTESO”.7

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    Figure 1.


    Nicholas Hilliard, Man in an Armillary Sphere, 1569, watercolour on vellum, 5.9 x 4.5 cm. Collection of Waddesdon (National Trust), accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Waddesdon Manor, 1990 (Acc no: 3542).


    Digital image courtesy of Waddesdon Image Library. Photo: Angelo Hornak (all rights reserved).

  • Man Aged 27
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    Figure 2.


    Attributed to Levina Teerlinc, Man Aged 27, 1569. Private collection.


    Digital image courtesy of Trustees of the late Countess Beauchamp / Madresfield (All rights reserved).

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Imprese in England

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The choice of Italian for the motto is fitting, since, as the antiquarian William Camden explained in 1605, impresa was an Italian term of art:

An Imprese [sic.] (as the Italians call it) is a devise in picture with his Motte, or Word, borne by noble and learned personages, to notifie some particular conceit of their owne: as Emblemes (that we may omitte other differences) doe propound some generall instruction to all. … There is required in an Imprese (that wee may reduce them to few heades) a correspondencie of the picture, which is as the bodie, and the Motte, which as the soule giveth it life. That is, the body must be of faire representation, and the word in some different language, wittie, short, and answerable thereunto neither too obscure nor too plaine, and most commended, when it is an Hemistich, or parcell of a verse.8

An aspect of emblematics of the kind introduced into learned culture by Andrea Alciato’s Emblematum liber (first edition 1531), imprese may have circulated in England from as early as Henry VII’s reign. As Alan R. Young has shown, they were common in the tournaments held regularly throughout the reign of Henry VIII, while imported Italian books on the subject broadened familiarity with imprese in the late 1550s and 1560s. Paolo Giovio’s Dialogo dell’imprese (first published 1555), for example, furnished knights with devices for tournaments held in the early years of Elizabeth I’s reign.9 However, imprese did not take off fully in the wider visual and material culture of England until the later 1570s and 1580s, when they became popular both as lovers’ tokens and as chivalric badges of honour. Commenting on this fashion in The Arte of English Poesie (1589), George Puttenham explained:

… these be the short, quicke and sententious propositions, such as be at these dayes all your devices of armes and other amorous inscriptions which courtiers use to give and also to weare in liverie for the honour of their ladies, and commonly containe but two or three words of wittie sentence or secrete conceit till they [are] unfolded or explaned by some interpretatio[n]. For which cause they be commonly accompanied with a figure or purtraict of ocular representation, the words so aptly corresponding to the subtilitie of the figure, that aswel the eye is therwith recreated as the eare or the mind. The Greekes call it Emblema, the Italiens Impresa, and we, a Device, such as a man may put into letters of gold and sende to his mistresses for a token, or cause to be embrodered in scutchions of armes, or in any bordure of a rich garment to give by his noveltie marvell to the beholder.10

During her incarceration at Tutbury, Mary, Queen of Scots, embroidered a cushion with an impresa featuring an armillary sphere shedding feathers into a stormy sea, accompanied by the motto “Las Pennas Passar Y Queda La Speranza” (“Sorrows pass but hope survives”), punning on the Latin penna (feather) and sphaera (sphere), and indicating that imprese could be political as well as amorous (Fig. 3).11 Isaac Oliver’s A Man Consumed by Flames (circa 1600–1610; Ham House) is often cited as an example of an impresa miniature with an “amorous inscription”, of the kind intended to be sent to “mistresses for a token” (Fig. 4). Depicting the sitter in the midst of a raging fire (picked out in gold in order to catch the light and flicker like real flames), it bears the motto “Alget, qui non ardet” (“He grows cold who does not burn”)—with a lover’s passion, it has been claimed.12 We may note, however, that the exceedingly rare “Alget, qui non ardet” was used as a motto by two survivors of an ill-fated voyage to the Virginia colony: William Strachey (1572–1621) and Ralph Hamor (1589–1626). The motto appears on the title-pages of tracts they wrote upon their return from Virginia: Strachey’s manuscript The Historie of Travaile into Virginia-Britania (composed circa 1612) and printed tract For the Colony in Virginea Britannia: Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall (published 1612), and Hamor’s A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia (1615).13 Of the two, Strachey is more likely to have commissioned Isaac Oliver, who in 1612 was his neighbour in the Blackfriars.14 Keenly interested in literature and the theatre, and a dabbler in verse himself, Strachey was acquainted with poets such as Ben Johnson, Thomas Campion, and possibly William Shakespeare, who is thought to have used his account of being shipwrecked off the coast of Bermuda when writing The Tempest.15 Strachey could well have marked his safe return to England in late 1611 with a portrait commission, in which case “Alget, qui non ardet” might refer to the fire of faith or other kinds of determination in the face of adversity, rather than profane love.16

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    Figure 3.


    Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, Mary, Queen of Scots, Embroidery with an armillary sphere and the motto “Las Pennas Passar Y Queda La Speranza”, ca. 1585, embroidered linen canvas with gold, silver, and silk threads, lined, 168.6 x 192.5 cm. Collection of Victoria and Albert Museum, London (T.33-1955).


    Digital image courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

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    Figure 4.


    Isaac Oliver, A Man Consumed by Flames (William Strachey?) , ca. 1600–1610, tempera on vellum, 8 x 7 cm. Collection of National Trust, Ham House (5175).


    Digital image courtesy of National Trust Images | Photo: John Hammond (All rights reserved).

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Imprese were employed most commonly as “devices of armes”, especially to decorate the pasteboard shields sported by combatants in the annual Accession Day Tilts, afterwards displayed in the shield gallery at Whitehall.17 Such a shield is recorded hanging from a tree in Hilliard’s celebrated cabinet miniature of the Queen’s Champion, George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland (circa 1590) (Fig. 5).18 Like the Man in an Armillary Sphere, Cumberland’s impresa deploys cosmological imagery (which seems to have been favoured by combatants): the Moon, Earth, and Sun in a straight line with the motto “Hasta quan[do]” (“The spear until such time as”), implying perhaps that Clifford “will be Elizabeth’s loyal champion until the rare event of an eclipse”.19 Indeed, in his account of imprese, Puttenham explained that the device of the Roman emperor Heliogabalus—the “coelestial sunne”—had been adapted to fit Elizabeth I, 

Our Soveraigne lady altering the mot … thus, [Soli nunquam deficienti] to her onely that never failes, viz. in bountie and munificence toward all hers that deserve, or else thus, To her onely (whose glorie and good fortune may neuer decay or wane. And so it inureth as a wish by way of resemblaunce in [Simile dissimile] which is also a subtillitie, likening her Maiestie to the Sunne for his brightnesse, but not to him for his passion, which is ordinarily to go to glade, and sometime to suffer eclypse.20

Similarly cosmological in tone, in what may have been his first foray into the impresa sub-genre, is the woodcut after Hilliard’s now-lost miniature of the Italian-born Louis de Gonzague, Duc de Nevers (1579) (Fig. 6). This depicts the nobleman framed by a cartouche of the astrological houses, with the motto “Nec retrogradior nec devio” (“Without reversing nor deviating”), presumably signifying his constancy in the face of changing fortunes.21 This image is, however, a full decade later than Man in an Armillary Sphere, for which there are few precedents in portraiture (and apparently none in English miniature painting).22 Thirteen years before our miniature was made, the Cremonese artist Sofonisba Anguissola had experimented with small-scale cryptic portraiture in her Self-Portrait with a Monogram (1556) (Fig. 7). As Michael Cole recently argued, the cypher inscribed on the tondo she holds (either a medallion, a shield, a mirror, or some combination of all three) spells the name of the artist’s father, Amilcare, for whom the picture may have been made.23 Technically, this witty device is not quite an impresa, while Sofonisba was chiefly a painter in oils, not a limner. Nevertheless, her self-portrait indicates that in the decades immediately preceding our miniature, continental artists were beginning to experiment with the symbolic potential of small-scale portraits. Indeed, it seems likely that continental developments informed the conceit, if not necessarily the execution, of Man in an Armillary Sphere, the attribution of which remains uncertain.

  • George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland
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    Figure 5.


    Nicholas Hilliard, George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, ca. 1590, watercolour on vellum, 16.5 x 24.5 cm. Collection of National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London (MNT0193).


    Digital image courtesy of National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London (All rights reserved).

  • Louis de Gonzague, Duc de Nevers, in La fondation faicte par mes seigneur et dame, le duc et duchesse de Nivernois
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    Figure 6.


    Unknown wood-engraver after Nicholas Hilliard, Louis de Gonzague, Duc de Nevers, in La fondation faicte par mes seigneur et dame, le duc et duchesse de Nivernois, published 1588, 1579, engraving. Collection of Bibliothèque nationale de France.


    Digital image courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France (Public domain).

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    Figure 7.


    Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-Portrait with a Monogram, 1556, varnished watercolor on parchment, 8.3 x 6.4 cm. Collection of Museum of Fine Arts Boston (60.155).


    Digital image courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts Boston (Public domain).

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Attribution: English Miniature Painting in the 1560s

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Made in 1569, the year Hilliard completed his apprenticeship under the goldsmith Robert Brandon and two years before his earliest securely attributed miniature, Man in an Armillary Sphere is conceptually ambitious but artistically limited.24 The drawing of the miniature is somewhat hesitant, the proportions of the figure awkward. Unlike Hilliard’s smooth carnation, the portrayed man’s face is mottled, its modelling achieved through blending rather than hatching (Fig. 8). While an accurate, characterful likeness is conveyed, the handling overall is somewhat clumsy, even down to the lettering of the inscription, the Roman-style majiscules of which lack elegance.25 Thus, if we assume the miniature was made in England, then even without the inscribed date we could locate it in that hazy decade, the 1560s, from which a number of comparable miniatures, in several hands, derive.26 Writing about the Waddesdon collection in 1977, Oliver Millar remarked, 

The authorship of this compelling miniature is a puzzle. The style is fundamentally unlike that of Nicholas Hilliard, whose miniatures at this early date were, in any case, far less vigorously handled or imaginatively conceived. It conveys an impression perhaps of the work of a painter more accustomed to work on the scale of life; a painter, perhaps, working in the manner of Gerlach Flicke.27 

Millar may have had in mind works such as Flicke’s unusual and small-scale double-portrait of himself and the pirate Henry Strangwish, made when both men were in prison in London in 1554 (Fig. 9).28 Yet there is no evidence that Flicke ever worked in limning and our miniature’s style is, in any event, dissimilar to his manner. In 1983, Roy Strong grouped the Man in an Armillary Sphere with a small number of portrait miniatures tentatively attributed to Levina Teerlinc, intended—in his words—to provide a “nucleus” of her oeuvre. Since his proposal, the size and characteristics of Teerlinc’s oeuvre have been strongly contested and beyond agreement (based on documentary evidence) that she probably painted a number of miniatures for Elizabeth I in the 1550s and 1560s, there is no consensus about her authorship of extant works.29 Specifically, Strong compared Man in an Armillary Sphere to a small number of half-length portraits of court ladies, including an Elizabeth I (mid-1560s) that he attributed to Teerlinc (Fig. 10).30 While his comparison of the hands in each (“small and angular, the fingers individually outlined by the brush over the carnation”) holds, the painterly blending of the skin tones in Man in an Armillary Sphere is quite different to the sparser dabbing of the Elizabeth I, which has recently (and controversially) been reattributed by Graham Reynolds to the young Nicholas Hilliard.31 However, as Elizabeth Goldring notes, “there is no evidence for either attribution” (to Teerlinc or Hilliard).32 Indeed, as Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire recently argued, reassigning miniatures from Teerlinc to a juvenile Hilliard is highly conjectural and the small corpus of surviving miniatures from 1560s England cannot be attributed to a named artist with any certainty.33

  • Man in an Armillary Sphere (detail showing mottled handling of face)
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    Figure 8.


    Anonymous, Man in an Armillary Sphere (detail showing mottled handling of face), 1569, watercolour on vellum, 5.9 x 4.5 cm. Collection of Waddesdon (National Trust), accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Waddesdon Manor, 1990 (Acc no: 3542).


    Digital image courtesy of Waddesdon Image Library. Photo: Angelo Hornak (All rights reserved).

  • Self-Portrait with Henry Strangwish
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    Figure 9.


    Gerlach Flicke, Self-Portrait with Henry Strangwish, 1554, diptych, oil on paper or vellum laid on panel, 8.8 x 11.9 cm. Collection of National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 6353).


    Digital image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London (All rights reserved).

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    Figure 10.


    Attributed to Levina Teerlinc, Elizabeth I , mid-1560s, watercolour on vellum laid on playing card, 5.7 x 4.9 cm, 4.5 cm diameter. Collection of Royal Collection (RCIN 420987).


    Digital image courtesy of Royal Collection Trust and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (All rights reserved).

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With this in mind, we may note the similarity of our miniature to Portrait of a Gentleman, recently sold at Sotheby’s (Fig. 11).34 Dated circa 1550 and attributed as “Anglo-Flemish School”, its palette and modelling are very different to Man in an Armillary Sphere—lighter and more graphic, with more extensive use of hatching and stippling. Compositionally, however, there are similarities, notably in the sitter’s hand with its distinctively crooked index finger, resting in his cloak at the bottom of the miniature. Perhaps coincidentally, the edge and folds of his cloak are described with curved lines that dissect the miniature in a position similar to the bars of the armillary sphere in our miniature, which—along with the comparable hand—raises the question of whether they share a common pattern. In fact, the composition of the hand may derive from a Self-Portrait (1528) by the Croatian-born miniaturist Giulio Clovio, in which the artist’s right hand rests in the folds of his gown (Fig. 12). The extent to which Clovio’s work was known in England in the second half of the sixteenth century is unclear, but he seems to have been familiar with—or at least have heard of—Levina Teerlinc, for his will included a portrait miniature of her.35 It is in this nexus of Anglo-Flemish-Italian artistic and intellectual exchange that we should situate our unidentified man.

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    Figure 11.


    Anonymous (Anglo-Flemish School), Portrait of a Gentleman, ca. 1550, watercolour and bodycolour on vellum, later gold frame with scroll surmount, 3.9 cm diameter. Collection of Private Collection.


    Digital image courtesy of Sotheby's (All rights reserved).

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    Figure 12.


    Giulio Clovio, Self-Portrait, 1528, oil on wood. Collection of Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.


    Digital image courtesy of Fine Art Images (All rights reserved).

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Interpretation: Word and Image

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In his brief discussion of the miniature, Roy Strong translated the motto “So che io sono inteso” as “I know that I am in harmony”, suggesting that the correspondence between words and image in the portrait hinges on the notion of “the music of the spheres”: the cosmic harmony in which the divinely ordered heavens rotate around a fixed earth.36 Thus, the external harmony of the spheres, in which our sitter is encased, is echoed by his internal mental or spiritual harmony, a settled inner state.37 This is plausible, but we may add a further of layer of possible meaning by noting the close association of the armillary sphere with Elizabeth I, who seems to have adopted it as one of her personal symbols at an early date.38 For instance, an armillary sphere with an Italian motto taken from Petrarch’s Trionfi appears in what may have been the queen’s own prayer book (inscribed with her autograph) and it features in her jewels and costume until late into her reign, for instance, as an earring in The Ditchley Portrait (circa 1592), commissioned by Sir Henry Lee (Fig. 13). Notably, it appears, accompanied by lovers’ knots, on Lee’s sleeves in a portrait by Anthonis Mor of 1568; likewise, on the sleeves of his successor as Queen’s Champion, George Clifford, in Hilliard’s miniature (Fig. 14).

  • Prayer book with Armillary Sphere and Verses from Petrarch
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    Figure 13.


    Prayer book with Armillary Sphere and Verses from Petrarch, possibly inscribed by Elizabeth I, sixteenth century. Royal Collection.


    Digital image courtesy of Royal Collection Trust and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (All rights reserved).

  • Sir Henry Lee
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    Figure 14.


    Antonis Mor, Sir Henry Lee, 1568, oil on panel, 64.1 x 53.3 cm. Collection of National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 2095).


    Digital image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London (All rights reserved).

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Elizabeth I Presiding over the Celestial Sphere DOI The meaning of the armillary sphere in relation to Elizabeth I varies, from its association with (in her case, Protestant) religious devotion to the queen’s heavenly wisdom.39 When deployed by Elizabeth’s courtiers, it may refer to the well-governed realm, in which the queen’s subjects orbit a fixed ruler, the perfectly ordered court and commonweal structured around a divinely ordained monarch. This, certainly, is the implication of a woodcut illustration to John Case’s Sphaera Civitatis (1588), in which the queen presides over a series of concentric rings that conflate the harmoniously ordered Ptolemaic world system with the qualities of good governance (Fig. 15). Puttenham, in a passage on proportional figures that appears shortly before his account of imprese in The Arte of English Poesie, confirms that Elizabeth had a “speciall and particular resemblance” to the circle (or “sphere”, as he calls this figure elsewhere): 

First her authoritie regall
Is the circle compassing all:
The dominion great and large
Which God hath geven her to charge:
Within which most spacious bound
She environs her people round …
Out of her breast as from an eye,
Issue the rayes incessantly
Of her justice, bountie and might
Spreading abroad their beames so bright …
So is the Queene of Briton ground
Beame, circle, center of all my round.40

Here, Puttenham combines the language of cosmic and political order with that of love: the queen is an object both of authority and of devotion, hence (presumably) the combination of an armillary sphere and lovers’ knots on the sleeves of her favour-seeking courtier, Sir Henry Lee.41 Man in an Armillary Sphere could be interpreted similarly: a devoted and doting servant of the queen, the sitter has been captivated by her divine glory, harmonious thanks to her wise and godly governance, “compassing all”.

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The notion that the miniature may allude to the rituals of courtly love appears to be confirmed by the motto, “So che io sono inteso”. Hitherto its source has not been recognised, but it may be identified as part of the final line of Pietro Bembo’s sonnet Correte fiumi a le vostre alte fonti, first published in his Rime (1530).42 The miniature is thus a notable and unusual instance of an Italian source used in English visual culture of the period, suggesting that the sitter was a well-read Italophile. Bembo’s work (chiefly his editions of Petrarch, but his own compositions, too) exerted significant influence on English poetry from mid-century on, notably in the development of the sonnet by Philip Sidney and others. We may conjecture that the sitter in Man in an Armillary Sphere was a member of such literary circles, and that he had access to a copy of Bembo’s frequently republished Rime, an edition of which was published in 1569. Alternatively, the sitter may have encountered his motto in the prodigiously productive music master Filippo de Monte’s Secondo Libro delli Madrigali, first published in 1567 and re-issued in 1569. Such a source could well have suggested cosmic imagery of the “music of the spheres”, indeed de Monte’s madrigal was published some years later in a collection of songs titled Harmonia Celeste (1583).43.

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However, while Bembo’s poem concludes with the words “I know that I am in harmony”, the rest of the poem is a tale of discord.

Correte fiumi, a le vostre alte fonti , Run, streams, back to your high fountains,
onde, al soffiar de’ venti or vi fermate, Waves, stand still at the howling winds’ motion,
abeti e faggi, il mar profondo amate, Firs and beeches, love the deep ocean,
umidi pesci, e voi gli alpestri monti.   And you, dank fish, love the alpine mountains.
   
 Nè si porti dipinta ne le fronti   Do not carry pictured on your face,
 alma pensieri e voglie innamorate;  Soulful thoughts and wishes of desire,
 ardendo ’l verno, agghiacci omai la state,  Stand frozen, winter, burning with fire,
 e ’l sol là oltre, ond’alza, inchini e smonti.   And Sun, sink and dismount in your rising place.
   
 Cosa non vada più, come solea,  Things no longer run as they used to travel,
 poi che quel nodo è sciolto, ond’io fui preso,  Now that this knot is loosed, in which I was caught,
 ch’altro che morte scioglier non devea.  Which nought but death should e’er unravel. 
   
 Dolce mio stato, chi mi t’ha conteso?  My sweet nature, who has set you against me?
 com’esser può quel ch’ esser non potea?  How can that be, which could not be?
 O cielo, o terra, e so ch’io sono inteso.   O Heaven, O Earth! Yet I know that I am in harmony.44

In the manner of Petrarch, on whose sonnets the poem is loosely modelled, Bembo offers a series of confusions and reversals, using imagery of the natural world to speak about the poet’s inner conflict. Thus, streams run backwards, returning to their mountain springs; winter burns with fire; the sun rises and sets in the same place. The poet’s mental state, we are told, is like these confounding impossibilities: “My sweet nature, who has set you against me?” It is a confusion born of a specific relationship: someone (“chi”), not something, has caused his consternation. Indeed, as Anton-Federigo Seghezzi noted in his eighteenth-century annotations to Bembo’s Rime, the poem imitates Elegy VIII of Ovid’s Tristia, “To a traitorous friend”. A broken relationship is certainly alluded to: things aren’t what they were, “Now that this knot is loosed, in which I was caught, which nought but death should e’er unravel.” Yet Bembo laments not the loss of friendship, but having fallen out of favour with his mistress.45 The poem’s torment, surely, is that of the lover: “Do not carry pictured on your face, soulful thoughts and wishes of desire”. The narrator draws to a conclusion with a cry of anguish—“O Heaven, O Earth!”—yet in a final twist, all is resolved, for despite the distress of a broken heart, the poet is tranquil: “I know that I am in harmony”.

 

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Where this harmony comes from, we may only guess at. Solace in religious faith, perhaps? The exercising of a stoic discipline? It is purposefully ambiguous; indeed, the ambiguity is amplified by the double-meaning of the word inteso as “harmony” and (more usually) “understood”. Thus, the last line may read either “I know that I am in harmony” or “I know that I am understood”, the poet playfully asking whether we (or the object of his love) do indeed comprehend his meaning in a poem of intentional inversions. Placing the miniature’s motto in this context suggests another reading of the portrait: a melancholy lover, head in hand, who is nevertheless “understood” by his beloved; he is at once disconcerted and harmoniously ordered. If, as was common, the miniature was a love token, this sense would become especially piquant: the lover caged (“caught in a knot”, as the poem says) by the very being who nevertheless orders and governs his existence. It may even be intentional that the motto is inscribed upon the armillary sphere’s ecliptic, representing the path of the Sun, which in Bembo’s verse rises and sets in the same place.

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Identification: Three Proposals

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This brings us to a final matter: the identification of the miniature’s sitter. Writing in the Dictionary of National Biography, John Bennell identified Man in an Armillary Sphere as the Elizabethan music master Thomas Whithorne (or Whythorne; circa 1528–1596).46 Whithorne, a successful composer and teacher at court and in the country, is renowned for having written the first prose “autobiography” in English: a remarkable manuscript in which he details his personal and professional fortunes, including his travels on the continent, often in bawdy detail. In the chapter of his autobiography, titled “On Musicians”, Whithorne misquotes Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls by saying “the spheres be the walls of music”.47 Bendell took this quotation as the basis for his identification, suggesting that it finds a parallel in the armillary sphere, which—literally and figuratively—represents “walls of music” in the miniature.

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Whithorne, constantly in and out of love, is an appealing candidate for the Man in an Armillary Sphere, not least because (as his autobiography shows) he commissioned numerous portraits in large and small, intended to capture his changing appearance over time. He even commissioned an “Allegory of Music”, featuring Terpsichore playing a lute accompanied by an explanatory sonnet praising music’s capacity to drive away sorrow.48 Moreover, Whithorne’s autobiography is rife with astronomical subject matter, including a passage in which he refers to his skill in astrology. Describing conversations with a “court lady” who was one of his love objects, he writes:

Sometimes we should enter into talk of humours … Then we should sometimes wade into communication, and talk of the planets and celestial signs with the constellations, and what their operations and workings were … I would cast the nativity of some in the company.49

Portrait of Thomas Whythorne (Whithorne) in Whythorne (Whithorne) DOI This notion that the heavens govern the humours (i.e. temperament and health) was commonplace in the sixteenth century. For example, a melancholic temperament (of the kind perhaps denoted by Man in an Armillary Sphere’s gesture) was associated with those born under the sign of Saturn. Music was considered a remedy for maladies, soothing a troubled mind and an important part of a healthy regimen: harmonious music could produce an inner harmony (inteso) of the humours, which were themselves governed astrologically by the stars and planets, whose motion are modelled in an armillary sphere.50 Equally, harmonious music was routinely invoked as a symbol of good governance and was used as such by Elizabeth I, depicted playing the lute in a miniature by Hilliard (circa 1580; Berkeley Castle). Whithorne himself had a set of virginals painted with, as he puts it, “mine own counterfeit or picture, likewise playing the lute”, and accompanied by a poem.51 The musician’s sonneteering was informed by his knowledge of Italian verse, which peppers his autobiography in the form of commonplaces and mottoes. This carried over into the woodcut portrait made for his first publication, Songs for Three, Fower and Five Voyces (1571), with its punning Italian motto “Aspra, ma non troppo” (Sharp, but not too much), referring evidently to a “sharp” note, “sharpness” of wit, and, perhaps “sharpness” of character (Fig. 16).52 Whithorne is, in sum, an outstanding candidate for the sitter of Man in an Armillary Sphere.

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Unfortunately, as Katie Nelson has pointed out, the man in the miniature does not look especially like the securely identified portrait of Whithorne preserved in the Beinecke Library at Yale University, attributed to George Gower (Fig. 17).53 Even though this portrait was painted in 1569 (when Whithorne was 41), depicting the sitter with ginger beard and hair, in a high-necked doublet and wearing about his neck a miniature in a case decorated with a lover’s knot, its sitter has dark brown eyes, where those of the Man in an Armillary Sphere are blue. There are, moreover, notable discrepancies between the eyebrows, hair, and jawline of the two sitters. Yet, although we must look elsewhere for a plausible identification of Man in an Armillary Sphere, Whithorne has provided precious insights into the contexts—music, astrology, the humours, Italian poetry, and the pangs of love—that likely informed the miniature’s production.

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Figure 17.
Attributed to George Gower, Thomas Whythorne (Whithorne), ca. 1569, oil on board, 42.3 x 36.4 cm. Collection of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (1980.389).


Digital image courtesy of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (Public domain).

DOI

Who, then, are the alternative candidates? Sir Henry Lee is one. In his portrait by Mor, Lee wears a similar high-necked black doublet and tight ruff to that of Man in an Armillary Sphere. Likewise, he has curly, ginger hair (albeit more obviously receding in the oil painting) and sweeping moustaches. There is a comparable profile to the noses of both sitters, who have the same grey-blue eyes and a somewhat fierce expression, with furrowed brow. As we have seen, Lee deployed the armillary sphere prominently on his sleeves in connection to the snares of “lovers’ knots”. He even owned a jewel described as “The Gloabe”, which may well have been an armillary sphere of the kind Elizabeth I wears in The Ditchley Portrait.54

DOI

Another plausible candidate, however, is Hugh Fitzwilliam of Haddlesey (circa 1538–circa 1576), portrayed (anonymously) in 1568 holding a pin topped by an armillary sphere, with the mottoes “Dum spiro, spero” and what appears to be (the lettering is damaged and hard to make out) “Sperando sperio” (Fig. 18).55 Like Man in an Armillary Sphere, Fitzwilliam has ginger hair and wears his beard and moustache in a comparable style. Although his eyes are a pale brownish-grey, if painted in smalt, they could have faded and changed colour from blue. This detail aside, Fitzwilliam quite closely resembles the sitter in the miniature.

DOI

Figure 18.
Anonymous (possibly the Master of the Countess of Warwick (Arnold Derickson?)), Hugh Fitzwilliam of Emley, Sprotborough and Haddlesey Yorkshire, 1568, oil on panel, 85 x 62 cm. Collection of Milton Hall.


Digital image courtesy of The Hamilton Kerr Institute (All rights reserved).

DOI

An aspirational member of the provincial gentry, Fitzwilliam was one of the Marian exiles in Italy in the 1550s, where he was secretary to Sir Thomas Hoby, the translator of Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano.56 When Hoby died in post as ambassador to Paris in 1566, Fitzwilliam briefly took up his responsibilities there as chargé d’affaires (a role in which he did not excel). He was elected Member of Parliament for Peterborough in 1572.57 Hugh Fitzwilliam claimed descent from the Fitzwilliam earls of Southampton. When William Fitzwilliam of Sprotborough, the last of the line, died in 1516/1517, his extensive lands in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, and Norfolk were divided between his sisters and their heirs. Three generations of Fitzwilliam male heirs disputed the general heirs’ inheritance, a cause Hugh Fitzwilliam took up with considerable zeal on the death of his cousin John, in 1562.58 In an obsessive attempt to prove his case (still active when he died), he acquired an extensive collection of antiquarian genealogical rolls (including the Dering Roll), commissioned a raft of new pedigrees, and paid heralds for false testimony, all to no avail.59

DOI

The mottoes on the armillary in Fitzwilliam’s oil portrait likely refer to Hugh’s persistent hopes for his claim. “Dum spiro, spero” (“While I breathe [i.e. live], I hope”) was a well-worn Latin commonplace. The second, “Sperando sperio”, may be an Italian pun on another Latin commonplace: “Sperando spiro” (I breathe by hoping). “Sperio” refers obliquely to a sphere, via the Italian “emisperio” (hemisphere, attested in Dante, who plays on “spira” and “emisperio” in the Commedia), but it could also serve as “sper’io” (I hope).60 “Sperando sper’io” does not make a great deal of sense—“Hoping, I hope?”—but it could also, at a push, be construed as “Hoping, I trust”.61 Regardless, the armillary sphere was often a symbol of hope, and was thus a fitting image for the mottoes.62 Considering this impresa in the oil portrait, if Hugh is the sitter in Man in an Armillary Sphere, the miniature’s motto “So ch’io sono inteso” could be read—especially in light of its source, a poem of anguished reversals—as a reflection on Hugh Fitzwilliam’s legal dispute. 1569 was significant in this regard, for in that year one of his main adversaries—Sir Henry Savile of Lupset—died. Since this Henry Savile, “having become possessed of the great mass of the Fitzwilliam evidences” (by his marriage to one of the Fitzwilliam heiresses) is said to have “burnt three great bags, meaning therby to deface the blode and name [Fitzwilliam] for ever”, Hugh Fitzwilliam may well have taken his death as a good omen, a moment of hope in which to record his own resolution in a portrait miniature.63

DOI

Despite the reversals and obstacles, he remains in harmony. Knowing that he is “understood”, he is assured that his claim is true. In this reading, the Man in an Armillary sphere is a stable, harmonious symbol of true knowledge, opposed to the vicissitudes of fortune’s wheel, much as Robert Recorde had opposed the two in the title-page to his popular mathematical treatise The Castle of Knowledge (1556) (Fig. 19). There, Knowledge (with her “sphere of fate”) confronts Ignorance (with her “wheel of fortune”) above some explanatory doggerel:

Though spitefull Fortune turned her wheele
To staye the Sphere of Uranye,
Yet dooth this Sphere resist that Wheele,
And fleeyth all fortunes villanye.
Though earthe do honour Fortunes balle,
And bytells blynde her wheele advance,
The heavens to fortune are not thralle,
These Spheres surmount al fortunes chance.
The Castle of Knowledge, Flanked by the Spheres of Destiny and Fortune
DOI

Figure 19.
Robert Recorde, The Castle of Knowledge, Flanked by the Spheres of Destiny and Fortune, 1556, woodcut, 22.7 x 15.1 cm. Wellcome Collection (no. 26090i).


Digital image courtesy of Wellcome Collection (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

DOI

Conclusion

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In his definition, William Camden distinguished imprese from the more general “emblem” as a combination of word and image intended to convey a highly specific message of personal significance to the sitter. As we have seen, the armillary sphere was a flexible symbol. This, along with the fact that our miniature’s sphere has been combined with an ambiguous Italian motto taken from Bembo’s extremely ambivalent poem, suggests we should approach the interpretation of Man in an Armillary Sphere with caution. Much hinges on the identity of the sitter. If it is Sir Henry Lee, the miniature might have a political meaning, connected to fealty to Elizabeth I (figured as an object of devotion and authority), who ensures a divinely ordained “harmony” on earth. If it is Hugh Fitzwilliam, it is a statement of hope for public acknowledgement of his claim (a kind of “understanding”) in the face of fortune’s ups and downs. Perhaps the sitter is neither of these candidates, and the miniature is indeed (as Strong claimed) about inner harmony, or about being “understood” in love. Yet owing to the centuries separating us from the miniature’s original context, we cannot be certain (ironically, given its motto) that we understand Man in an Armillary Sphere’s meaning at all.

DOI

Acknowledgements

DOI

I am grateful to the anonymous peer reviewers for their helpful comments and to Edward Town, who drew my attention to the oil portrait of Hugh Fitzwilliam and discussed it with me. I am obliged to Michael Shrive and Tisha Daniels at Waddesdon Manor for having provided an image of Man in an Armillary Sphere and answered questions about it.

About the author

  • Head and shoulders portrait of Alexander Marr

    Alexander Marr is Reader in the History of Early Modern Art at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity Hall. His recent books include the co-authored monograph Logodaedalus: Word Histories of Ingenuity in Early Modern Europe (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019) and Rubens’s Spirit: From Ingenuity to Genius (forthcoming from Reaktion Books, 2021).

Footnotes

  1. “[I]t is the earliest impresa miniature, a form Hilliard was not to embark upon until the middle of the 1580s”; Roy Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature (London: Thames and Hudson, 1983), 58; and for the development of the impresa miniature, see 95–99 (Hilliard) and 166–169 (Oliver). See also Roy Strong, “The Portrait as Impresa”, in John Murdoch, Jim Murrell, Patrick J. Noon, and Roy Strong (eds), The English Miniature (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981), 68–73; and Michael Bath, Speaking Pictures: English Emblem Books and Renaissance Culture (London: Longman, 1993), 10–12.

    1
  2. The miniature has attracted little attention beyond Strong’s brief discussion in The English Renaissance Miniature, 58–60.

    2
  3. On male fashion in these decades, see Jane Ashelford, Dress in the Age of Elizabeth I (London: Batsford, 1988).

    3
  4. Attributed to Levina Teerlinc by Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature, 58; and to the young Hilliard in Graham Reynolds, “New Light on Nicholas Hilliard”, The British Art Journal 12, no. 2 (2011): 19–21.

    4
  5. Compare, for example, the similar pose in Nicholas Hilliard, Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland (1590–1595; Rijksmuseum). On melancholy in Elizabethan England, see, for example, Roy Strong, “The Elizabethan Malady: Melancholy in Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture”, Apollo 79, no. 26 (1964), 264–269; and Jeremy Schmidt, Melancholy and the Care of the Soul: Religion, Moral Philosophy and Madness in Early Modern England (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).

    5
  6. On astronomical education and instrument use in sixteenth-century England, see Mordechai Feingold, The Mathematician’s Apprenticeship: Science, Universities and Society in England 1560–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).

    6
  7. The miniature may have been trimmed at some point in its history, since at its left-hand side part of the “s” of the motto’s “So” is missing.

    7
  8. William Camden, Remaines … Concerning Britaine (London: George Eld for Simon Waterson, 1605), 158. See also Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature, 96. Camden’s definition derives from Paolo Giovio’s well-known Dialogo dell’imprese, translated into English by Samuel Daniel in 1585. See Christina J. Faraday, The Concept of “Liveliness” in English Visual Culture (unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Cambridge, 2019), noting Abraham Fraunce’s observation, in Symbolicae Philosophiae (circa 1590), that “the Italians were virtually the sole discoverers and sole perfectors of these distinguishing marks of honour”, 90.

    8
  9. See Alan R. Young, “The English Tournament Imprese”, in Peter M. Daly (ed.), The English Emblem and The Continental Tradition (New York: AMS Press, 1988), 61–82; and Alan R. Young, The English Tournament Imprese (New York: AMS Press, 1988).

    9
  10. George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie (London: Richard Field, 1589), 84–[85].

    10
  11. Jean Wilson, “Queen Elizabeth I as Urania”, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 69 (2006), 160.

    11
  12. See Strong, “The Portrait as Impresa”, 72; Roy Strong, Artists of the Tudor Court: The Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520–1620 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1983), 112; and Jill Finsten, Isaac Oliver: Art at the Courts of Elizabeth I and James I, 2 vols (New York: Garland, 1981), Vol. 2, cat. 46. Finsten dates the portrait to circa 1601–1605, but the sitter’s antique-style mantle, comparable to Oliver’s portraits of Henry, Prince of Wales (circa 1610; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) and others in his circle, suggests a slightly later date. Lang’s proposal that the motto is an anagram of “Algernon de Tiquet”—supposedly a member (unidentifiable) of the French Tiquet family—is not credible. Andrew Lang, “Portraits and Jewels of Mary Stuart”, The Scottish Historical Review 3, no. 10 (1906), 141.

    12
  13. See R.H. Major, The Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia, as Collected by William Strachey (London: Hakluyt Society, 1849), preface (for the inscription, found in Ashmolean MS 1754). See also William Strachey, The Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania (1612), edited by Louis B. Wright and Virginia Freund (London: Hakluyt Society, 1953). For Strachey’s biography, see S.G. Culliford, William Strachey, 1572–1621 (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1965). Hamor, Strachey’s successor as Secretary to the Virginia Colony, could simply have copied the motto from Strachey’s publications.

    13
  14. Strachey signed the introductory epistle of his Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall “from my lodging in the blacke friars”, where Isaac Oliver and his family appear to have resided. See Edward Town, “A Biographical Dictionary of London Painters, 1547–1625”, The Volume of the Walpole Society 76 (2014), 148–149.

    14
  15. Strachey’s “A True Reportory of the Wrack, and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates, Knight; upon and from the Ilands of the Bermudas” (probably composed in 1610) circulated in manuscript before being published in Samuel Purchas, Purchas His Pilgrims (London: William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, 1625). On the account’s history and the debate over its possible use by Shakespeare, see Alden T. Vaughan, “William Strachey’s ‘True Reportory’ and Shakespeare: A Closer Look at the Evidence”, Shakespeare Quarterly 59, no. 3 (2008), 245–273.

    15
  16. See Alexander Marr, “Burning Ambition: Isaac Oliver and William Strachey”, Apollo (September, 2020), 58–63.

    16
  17. See Roy Strong, The Cult of Elizabeth: Elizabethan Portraiture and Pageantry (London: Pimlico, 1999 [1st edn 1977]), 144.

    17
  18. The hanging of tournament shields from trees may be traced at least to 1501, when a “tree of chivalry” was erected at Westminster. See Young, “The English Tournament Imprese”, 67. A painting (circa 1545, Royal Collection) recording The Field of the Cloth of Gold (1520) depicts, in the background at the right-hand side, combatants’ shields hanging from a tree next to a tiltyard.

    18
  19. Catharine MacLeod (ed.), Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver (London: National Portrait Gallery, 2019), 85 (catalogue entry by Christina J. Faraday). The translation of the motto is from Young, “The English Tournament Imprese”, 73. As Strong notes, most of the imprese used in Elizabeth I’s Accession Day Tilts were (at least on the evidence of William Camden) “astrological in theme, concerned with the queen as an astral body or influence”. Strong, The Cult of Elizabeth, 144.

    19
  20. Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie, [85].

    20
  21. La fondation faicte par mes seigneur et dame, le duc et duchesse de Nivernois (n.p.: n.p., 1579 [2nd, illustrated edition]). The duke’s portrait is accompanied by that of his wife, which also features a cosmological motto: “Igneus est ollis vigor et celestis origo” (“Fiery is the vigour and divine the source”), derived from Virgil, Aeneid, Book 6, 730; translation from Virgil, Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid Books 1–6, translated by H. Rushton Fairclough, Loeb Classical Library 63 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1916). For Hilliard’s commission, brokered by Blaise de Vigenère, see Elizabeth Goldring, Nicholas Hilliard: Life of An Artist (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019), 158–160. It is unclear whether Hilliard’s original limnings featured the impresa surrounds, or whether these were added for the woodcut. Letters about the production of the Fondation from Vigenère to the duke indicate that a professional wood engraver produced blocks after Hilliard’s originals. See Henry Bouchot, “La preparation et production d’un livre illustré au XVIe siècle, 1573–1588”, Bibliothèque de l’école des chartres 53, no. 1 (1892), 617.

    21
  22. Hans Holbein the Younger’s so-called An Allegory of Passion (circa 1532–1536), which combines a galloping horse and rider with a motto from Petrarch’s 12th canzone (“E cosi desio mi mena”) may well be an impresa; see Susan Foister, Holbein in England (London: Tate Publishing, 2006), 61.

    22
  23. Michael W. Cole, Sofonisba’s Lesson: A Renaissance Artist and Her Work (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019), 33–39.

    23
  24. For Hilliard’s earliest secure miniature, Unknown Man (1571; Welbeck Abbey) and his work of the early 1570s, see Goldring, Nicholas Hilliard, 96ff.

    24
  25. Though less assured, the lettering recalls the majiscules in miniatures by the Horenbouts, for which, see Polly Saltmarsh’s contribution to this volume: “Portrait of an Unknown Lady: Technical Analysis of an Early Tudor Miniature.”

    25
  26. As Elizabeth Goldring observed recently, “Numerous question marks hover over the production and circulation of miniatures in England in the 1560s”; Goldring, Nicholas Hilliard, 74.

    26
  27. Oliver Millar, “A Collection of Miniatures”, Apollo 105, no. 184 (1977), 433–435.

    27
  28. See Tricia Bracher, “Partners-in-Crime: A Reading of Gerlach Flicke’s 1554 Prison Diptych”, Word & Image 32, no. 2 (2007): 195–210.

    28
  29. Compare, for example, Susan E. James, The Feminine Dynamic in English Art, 1485–1603: Women as Consumers, Patrons and Painters (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009) with Goldring, Nicholas Hilliard, 74–77.

    29
  30. Strong, English Renaissance Miniature, 58–59. See also Jim Murrell, The Way How to Lymne (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983), 26: endorsing Strong’s comparison.

    30
  31. Reynolds, “New Light on Nicholas Hilliard”, 19.

    31
  32. Goldring, Nicholas Hilliard, 76.

    32
  33. Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire, “Nicholas Hilliard’s Workshop Practice Reconsidered”, in Tanya Cooper, Aviva Burnstock, Maurice Howard, and Edward Town (eds), Painting in Britain 1500–1630: Production, Influences, and Patronage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 241–251. See also, taking a different view, Edward Town’s “A Portrait of the Miniaturist as a Young Man: Nicholas Hilliard and the Painters of 1560s London”, in this volume. The style of Man in an Armillary Sphere is perhaps closest to the portrait of Catharine Grey, Countess of Hertford (circa 1555–1560; Victoria and Albert Museum, London) attributed to Teerlinc and grouped by Coombs and Derbyshire with two comparable miniatures, which they describe as having “thin, pinkish carnations with the features described using broad, rather imprecise reddish-brown strokes. The mouths are bright red, the lips small and puckered, the eyes puffy”, see Coombs and Derbyshire, “Nicholas Hilliard’s Workshop Practice Reconsidered”, 244.

    33
  34. Sotheby’s, The Pohl-Ströhler Collection of Portrait Miniatures, Part I, Sotheby’s, London, 6 December 2018, Lot 2.

    34
  35. See Annemie Leemans, “Tra storia e leggenda: Indagini sul network artistico tra Sophonisba Anguissola, Giulio Clovio e Levina Teerlinc”, Intrecci d’Arte 3 (2014), 38. Clovio and Anguissola certainly knew each other, for the latter painted the former. See Cole, Sofonisba’s Lesson, 175–176. The connections between Anguissola, Clovio, and Teerlinc, and their implications for English miniature painting in the 1550s and 1560s, deserve further attention. As Goldring notes, “On occasion, there … seems to have been collaboration (and, perhaps, cross-fertilization) between individuals who were products of different traditions”; Goldring, Nicholas Hilliard, 8.

    35
  36. Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature, 60.

    36
  37. See, repeating Strong’s interpretation, Tai Van Toorn, “Intimate Enclosures: Framing the English Portrait Limning, 1585–1615”, Comitatus 38, no. 1 (2007): 129–153.

    37
  38. See Wilson, “Queen Elizabeth I as Urania”.

    38
  39. Wilson, “Queen Elizabeth I as Urania”, 162, citing earlier literature, most notably Roy Strong, Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth (London: Thames and Hudson, 1987), 138–141.

    39
  40. Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie, 82–83; and for “The Rondel or Sphere”, see 76.

    40
  41. See Karen Hearn (ed.), Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530–1630 (London: Tate, 1995), 60–61.

    41
  42. I first identified this source, albeit without elaboration, in Alexander Marr, “Visual Arts”, in Bruce R. Smith (ed.), The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), Vol. 1, 384. Since the motto is only part of the final line of the poem, it conforms to Camden’s observation that the best mottoes are “an Hemistich, or parcell of a verse” (see above).

    42
  43. Andrea Pevenage, Harmonia celeste di diversi eccellentissimi musici (Antwerp: Pietro Phalesio and Giovanni Bellero, 1583).

    43
  44. Pietro Bembo, Prose della volgar lingua, Gli Asolani, Rime, edited by Carlo Dionisotti (Turin: Utet, 1966). Translation by Alexander Marr.

    44
  45. “Imita Ovidio nella elegia VII [sic.] del Libro I. Tristium, e duolsi di esser venuto in disgrazia della sua donna.” Pietro Bembo, Rime: Con le annotazioni di Anton Federigo Seghezzi, 2nd edn (Bergamo: Lancellotti, 1753), 231. For the relevant passages in Ovid’s Tristia, see Ovid, Tristia. Ex Ponto, translated by A.L. Wheeler, revised by G.P. Goold, Loeb Classical Library 151 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1924), 40–43.

    45
  46. John Bennell, “Whithorne, Thomas (c. 1528–1596), Composer and Autobiographer”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 September 2004, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29313, accessed 20 April 2020. For Whithorne’s portraits, see Marguerite A. Tassi, The Scandal of Images: Iconoclasm, Eroticism, and Painting in Early Modern English Drama (Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna University Press, 2005), 102–104.

    46
  47. J.M. Osborn (ed.), The Autobiography of Thomas Whythorne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962), 196. The correct phrase in Chaucer is “welle of musik”.

    47
  48. Osborn, The Autobiography of Thomas Whythorne, 11.

    48
  49. Osborn, The Autobiography of Thomas Whythorne, 82.

    49
  50. Whithorne, immediately after having invoked the celestial spheres as “the walls of music”, quotes Caxton’s The Mirror of the World in this vein: “[O]f the science of music cometh all attemperance … And of this art proceedeth some physic. For like as music accordeth all things that do discord in themselves and remain them to concordance, right so in likewise traveleth physic to bring nature to point, that disnatureth in man’s body, when any malady and sickness encumbereth it.” Osborn, The Autobiography of Thomas Whythorne.

    50
  51. Osborn, Autobiography of Thomas Whythorne.

    51
  52. On “wit” in English portrait miniatures, see Alexander Marr, “Pregnant Wit: Ingegno in Renaissance England”, British Art Studies, no. 1 (2015), doi: https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-01/amarr.

    52
  53. Katie Nelson, Thomas Whythorne and Tudor Musicians (unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Warwick, 2010), 40–41.

    53
  54. See Diana Scarisbrick, Tudor and Jacobean Jewellery (London: Tate, 1995), 27–28. For a comparable object, see Anon., “The Collection of Jewels Belonging to Sir Charles Robinson”, The Magazine of Art (January, 1902), 153.

    54
  55. On Fitzwilliam, see Mary E. Finch, The Wealth of Five Northamptonshire Families, 1540–1640 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956), 188; and his entry in P.W. Hasler, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1558–1603 (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1981). Fitzwilliam was dead by 1 February 1576, when Humphrey Mildmay was returned to his Peterborough seat at a by-election. In the 1568 oil portrait, his age is given as 30, indicating that the year of his birth was 1538, not (per Hasler) 1534.

    55
  56. Hugh Fitzwilliam gained his position with Hoby through family connections. He was cousin to Edward Cooke, a relative of Sir Anthony Cooke, whose daughter, Elizabeth, was married to Thomas Hoby. Fitzwilliam received a licence from Mary I to travel to Italy in October 1554. See Christina H. Garrett, The Marian Exiles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966), 154. Garrett speculates that he is the “Mr Phitzwilliam” who arrived in Paris in 1559 from Italy, “where he had been a student”, but this is more likely to be his relative, John Fitzwilliam (d. 1562). One Thomas Fitzwilliam, possibly another cousin, had been with Sir Thomas Hoby in Padua in 1548 and 1554. See Jonathan Woolfson, Padua and The Tudors: English Students in Italy, 1485–1603 (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1999), 235; Charles B. Norcliffe (ed.), The Visitation of Yorkshire in the Years 1563 and 1563, made by William Flower (London: Harleian Society, 1881), 125–126.

    56
  57. See F.J. Weaver, “Anglo-French Diplomatic Relations 1558–1603”, Historical Research 5, no. 13 (1927), 20.

    57
  58. See the records in Star Chamber, 5/F5/2, F15/18, S8/23.

    58
  59. In his will, written in 1563 and proved in 1577 (PCC 3 Langley, Prob. 11/60/40), Hugh Fitzwilliam bequeathed to his heir, Sir William Fitzwilliam II of Milton Hall in Northamptonshire, a quantity of leather-covered chests, caskets, mails, and leather bags, which contained the precious documents he hoped would prove his claim. Sir William presumably inherited also the oil portrait of Hugh, now at Milton Hall. For Hugh’s genealogies (many in Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Record Offices), see, for example, John Baker, “Pedigree Rolls”, The Escutcheon 23, no. 2 (2019), 44. The Dering Roll, the oldest English roll of arms surviving in its original form, is British Museum, Additional Roll 77720. For the Fitzwilliam–Savile–Copley dispute and the roll of pedigrees within it, see J.H. Baker, “Tudor Pedigree Rolls and their Uses”, in Nigel Ramsay (ed.), Heralds and Heraldry in Shakespeare’s England (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2014), 156; and Nigel Ramsay, “The Governance of the Office of Arms: Ordinances and Decrees, 1417–1600”, The Ancestor 13 (3rd series, parts I and II), nos 233–234 (2017), 45.

    59
  60. Dante, Inferno, 34.4–5.

    60
  61. Although Hugh Fitzwilliam is unlikely to have known it, Caio Baldassare Olimpo, in his Libro primo d’amore, et non piu visto, chiamato Aurora (Venice: Alvise de Torti, 1536), offered an extended pun on sperando/spero in the poem “Speranza[,] essendo poco in gratia a madona”.

    61
  62. See, for example, the sphere in Mary, Queen of Scots’ embroidery and Elizabeth’s prayer book (above, Figs 3 and 13). The motto of the latter (taken from Petrarch) is “Miser e’chi speme in cosa mortal pone” (“Wretched is he who puts hope in mortal things”). See Wilson, “Queen Elizabeth I as Urania”, 156; and (for further examples) 162.

    62
  63. See the entry for Northamptonshire Record Office, F(M) roll/435: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/b5c01124-81dd-4769-b08f-1275af564c39. In 1569, Hugh commissioned a pedigree (Doncaster Archives, DD/CROM/9/2) prefaced by “a declaration of Hugh Fitzwilliam of Sprotbrough and ‘Hathsilsay’ [Haddesley] Co. Yorks, on the false claims made to the Earl Marshall by Richard Gascoign[e], Dame Elizabeth Savell [sic.] his wife and Philipp Copley”.

    63

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Imprint

Author
Alexander Marr
Date
30 September 2020
Category
Article
Review status
Peer Reviewed (Double Blind)
Licence
CC BY-NC International 4.0
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Article DOI
https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-17/amarr
Cite as
Alexander Marr, "An Early Impresa Miniature: Man in an Armillary Sphere (1569)", British Art Studies, Issue 17, https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-17/amarr