Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015
Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669)
John Hoskins was the most successful miniature painter at the English court between the death of Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619) and the emergence of his own nephew, Samuel Cooper (?1608-1672) as his natural successor. This is the finest surviving work by Hoskins and shows him at the height of its powers. It has not always been acknowledged as a work by Hoskins, on the grounds of the 'S.C.' monogram which is written in pencil on the cracked, gessoed reverse of the miniature, and which has suggested to some that the miniature might date to the period of Samuel Cooper's apprenticeship in Hoskins's studio. However, the miniature was recorded by Charles I's Surveyor of Pictures, Abraham van der Doort, c. 1640, during the lifetime of both artists, as 'Done by the life by Haskins'. As van der Doort is unlikely to have overlooked the evidence of Cooper's signature, the signature can be supposed to have been added at a later date.
Van der Doort describes the elaborate costume in some detail: 'the Queenes Picture in liming with a white feather and in a white laced dressing about her breast in a blewish purple habitt and Carnacon sleeves and a part of goulden Tissue Curteine'. Henrietta Maria wears masque costume, possibly the bue star-spangled dress which she wore to perform in the masque Tempe Restored in 1632. Microscopic examination reveals the extent to which Hoskins encrusted the surface of the vellum with thick touches of pigment in order to create the textured appearance of the gem-set headdress, necklace and earrings. He must have learned this technique from Nicholas Hilliard, either in person, or through familiarity with the latter's 'Treatise concerning the Arte of Limning'.