Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619):
Master of the Miniature Portrait

February 5 – April 4, 2024 

A virtual exhibition curated by master’s degree students in
St. John’s University’s Museum Administration program

Enter the virtual exhibition HERE 

The Dr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery is pleased to host the virtual exhibition Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619): Master of the Miniature Portrait, curated by St. John’s M.A. Museum Administration program students Nickolas Brandon ’24, Lennese Prince ’24 and Victoria G. Unz ’24. Famous for crafting intricately detailed miniature portraits of the English monarchy and aristocracy under the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1587), and King James (1603-1625), Hilliard made works as small as a button or as large as an egg. This digital presentation gives viewers a level of visual access unavailable to the naked eye. High-resolution photography makes details of Hilliard’s miniatures leap off the exhibition walls, revealing often-overlooked details of the artist’s technique, sitters’ clothing, and his work’s hidden symbolism. 

A virtual curator-led guided walk-through tour will take place on March 11, 2024, at 7pm. Register here.

This first exhibition to focus solely on one of the greatest artists of the English Renaissance features twenty-five objects drawn from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Royal Collection Trust, The Fitzwilliam Museum, and National Portrait Gallery—and from the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Kansas. The display unfolds in six sections, starting with Hilliard’s apprenticeship under Queen Elizabeth I’s goldsmith, Robert Brandon; his early career as a jeweler; and his training in the art of limning—a term derived from the French word “lumineur” (which refers to produced illuminated manuscripts).

Hilliard’s exposure to art at the French court of King Henri of Valois, during an influential three-year trip to France, yielded the first significant miniature portraits of English monarchs, explorers,soldiers and courtiers. At the exhibition’s center are works that track the rise to power of Elizabeth
I for whom Hilliard served as royal limner and goldsmith tasked with crafting a goddess-like image that conveyed her power both at home and in continental Europe. England’s surprise victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 coincided with a decline in Elizabeth’s health—but Hilliard continued
to portray her as a youthful monarch until her 1603 death. The exhibition concludes with the ascension of King James I—who appointed Hilliard official limner to the crown. 

You can find more information about the M.A. Museum Administration program here.  Or contact the program’s founding director/coordinator, Dr. Susan Rosenberg (

Image Credit:
Nicholas Hilliard, Queen Elizabeth I, c. 1595-1600, watercolor on vellum, 65 mm x 53 mm (6.5 cm x 5.3 cm),Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Bequeathed by John Jones