The military and naval commander Walter Raleigh, was a favourite of Elizabeth I.

He was knighted in 1584 which may have been when this portrait miniature was commissioned and it seems to be the earliest likeness of him to survive. He is depicted wearing a small, decorated black cap and large circular ruff. This costume is French in style. In its elegance and delicacy, it ranks among the Hilliard's most outstanding works and testifies to the claim he made in his treatise on art, the Arte of Limning (c.1600), that 'the perfection of painting is to imitate the face of mankind'.


From the collections of the Howard family (Earls of Carlisle) and Viscount Morpeth.

National Portrait Gallery

St Martin's Place, London, Greater London, WC2H 0HE
020 7306 0055

Opening times

Sat- Thu: 10am – 6pm Fri: 10am – 9pm Closed 24 – 26 Dec

Exhibitions at National Portrait Gallery

Back to top