(b Exeter, c.1547; bur. London, 7 Jan. 1619). English miniaturist, the most celebrated of all practitioners of his art and a central figure in establishing the portrait miniature as a distinctive genre in Britain. He was the son of an Exeter goldsmith and himself trained in this craft, completing a seven-year apprenticeship in London in 1569. It is not known how he learnt miniature painting, but by 1572 he was working for Elizabeth I (his first surviving portrait of her, dating from that year, is in the NPG, London). Later he also worked for James I, but after the turn of the century his position as the leading miniaturist in the country was challenged by his former pupil Isaac Oliver; these two were head and shoulders above their contemporaries.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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