Isaac Oliver

by: Ryan Toscano


Isaac Oliver was an English painter that was born 1560, in Rouen, France, and died on on October 2, 1617, in London, United Kingdom. Shortly after he was born and only 8 years old, his father Pierre Oliver who was a gold minor, brought him to London, and this is where he spent the rest of his life creating his masterpieces, until he died and was buried also in London. During his artistic period, sources from his time period state that he was a "well profiting scholar," and later went into art schooling studying the aspect of miniature portraits, and was taught by his mentor Nicholas Hillard.

His daily lifestyle still remains obscure to most historians, but the details in his artwork show that he ventured to Italy at least once or multiple times during his life span, and experiencing this trips influenced the way he constructed his artwork, drawings, and paintings, because he was able to see other types of new artwork that was evolving during the Renaissance time period. Most of the artwork that Oliver constructed were oil paintings, and mainly focused on three dimensional miniature portraits that derived from naturalism. Three of the most famous pieces of artwork from Oliver was Victoria and Albert, The Rainbow Portrait of Queen Elizabeth, and Amsterdam. During the beginning of his art career, his main patron was his mentor, Nicholas Hilliard, who was the one who taught him how to construct portraits, and inspire him to create this type of art. From these portraits, the two main Isms that were linked to his work was perspectivism, and naturalism. perspectivism shows up in his paintings when he uses this to create a three dimensional perspective of his portraits, in order to make his portraits as realistic as possible. Also, Naturalism is used to create the people in the portraits how they actually are, and what they actually look like in order to make his paintings look as realistic and as natural as possible.

The Rainbow Portrait Of Queen Elizabeth:

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One of the most popular pieces that Oliver created at this time was his Rainbow Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, which was painted in 1600 to honor the Queen. In the modern world today, you will be able to find this piece on display at The Hatfield House, a national museum located in the United Kingdom. When creating this piece, no new or extraordinary strategies were used, but the significance of this portrait is honoring Queen Elizabeth while in her most powerful time of rule, just before she died a few years later. In my own words, this piece created by Oliver is a piece that not only shows off one of the most famous queen's beauty and what she looks like, but also shows the power she possessed through the things she is wearing. In the portrait, the queen is wearing an expensive and detailed dress, with lots of expensive jewelry with diamonds and gold, showing her wealth. The rainbow that she holds in her right hand represents the peace in England at this time, and is the main reason why the portrait is named after a rainbow. The Ism the is represented in this piece is mainly idealism, despite the fact that Oliver focused mainly on naturalism in his paintings. Idealism is represented because of how Queen Elizabeth is posing for this portrait, and she almost looks perfect with her clothes being expensive, and her face looking perfect. Also in the background of the painting, there is just a very simple brown background so you are able to focus only on the person in the portrait. I find this painting so interesting because Queen Elizabeth was one of the most famous rulers in all of England, and her allowing Oliver to paint a portrait of her shows that Oliver's artistic skill is greatly recognized and respected. You are able to find this image on many different websites all over the internet, and here is a link to one example where you can find the piece online: