armour, was in the collection of Charles I. A. series of miniature portraits of the family of Sir Kenelm Digby [q. v.] and his wife Venetia Stanley, done by Isaac and Peter Oliver, was formerly at Strawberry Hill, but is now divided between the collections of Mr. Winfield Digby and Baroness Burdett-Coutts. Oliver usually signed with his initials in a monogram. Perhaps the earliest miniature known with a date is that of Sir John Clench (1583), in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch. An interesting group of the three sons of the second Viscount Montagu, painted by Isaac Oliver in 1598, was one of the few treasures saved from the disastrous fire at Cowdray House in 1793. It is not certain whether Oliver painted any miniatures of Queen Elizabeth, though there are some of her attributed to him. He certainly drew the portrait of her in the richly ornamented robes supposed, without ground, to be those in which she went to St. Paul's Cathedral to return thanks for the defeat of the Spanish Armada. This portrait was finely engraved by Crispin Van de Passe the elder, and a pen drawing on vellum in the royal collection at Windsor may be Oliver s original drawing (see O'Donoghue, Portraits of Queen Elizabeth, p. 70, No. 160). Several pen drawings by Oliver exist, some being copies from old masters. Six drawings by him are in the print-room at the British Museum, two of which are signed 'Ollivier.'
Vertue states on the authority of Antony Russel, a painter, that Oliver also painted larger pictures in oil, and he mentions two pictures of 'St. John the Baptist' and 'The Holy Family' as then in Russel's possession (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 21111. f. 50). Russel was doubtless well acquainted with Oliver's work. His grandfather, Nicasius Roussell or Russel, jeweller to James I, seems to have been a kinsman of Oliver. To Nicasius's son, Isaac Russel, Oliver stood godfather in 1616, while Oliver's widow stood godmother to Nicasius, another of Nicasius's sons, in 1619. A portrait of Sir Thomas Overbury (1581-1613) [q. v.], on a blue ground, in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, is attributed to Oliver.
In 1610 Oliver had commenced a large limning of 'The Entombment of Christ,' with a great number of figures. This be left uncompleted at his death, and it eventually passed into the royal collection, where it still remains: it was the subject of unstinted admiration from his contemporaries. Oliver, who resided in Blackfriars, died on 2 Oct. 1617, aged about 61, and was buried in the of St. Anne, Blackfriars, where a monument was erected to his memory, with a bust and epitaph. This was destroyed in the great fire of London; but Vertue saw a clay model of the bust in the possession of Russel, with several leaves from Oliver's sketch-book (loc. cit. f. 62). By his will, dated 4 June, and proved 30 Oct. 1617 (P.C.C. 93 Weldon), Oliver appointed his wife Elisabeth his executrix, and bequeathed all his 'drawinges allreadye finished and unfinished, and Lymminge pictures, be they historyes, storyes, or anything of Lymming whatsoever of my owne hande worke as yet unfinished,' to his 'eldest sonne Peter, if he shall live and exercise that arte or Science which he and I nowe doe;' and failing him, 'to suche another of my sonnes as will use and exercise that arte or Science.' As his younger sons appear to have been under age at the time of his death, they must have been sons of a later wife than the mother of Peter Oliver [q. v.] If the identification given above is correct, it would show that Oliver was twice, if not thrice, married—a not uncommon event in the small community of artists in London. He further mentions his kinswoman Judith Morrell, and signs his will 'Isaac Oliver.' Oliver painted his own portrait in miniature more than once; one example is in the royal collection at Windsor. Russel (loc. cit.) also possessed an oil painting of Oliver by himself, with those of his wife and children. Two engravings by Hondius and Miller are mentioned by Bromley.
[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting (ed. Wornum, pp. 176-83) contains all that was known of Oliver from Vertue and other sources to the present time; other anthorities cited in the text.]
OLIVER, JOHN (d. 1552), dean of Christ Church, Oxford, graduated in the university of Oxford. His degrees were B.C.L. on 30 June 1516, B. Can. L. and D. Can. L. on 20 May 1522, D.C.L. on 11 Oct. 1522. He must have had powerful influence in the church, as he received very numerous preferments. He may have been the John Oliver or Smith who became prebendary of Hinton on 5 July, and of Norton on 20 July 1512, both in the cathedral of Hereford. On 22 Aug. 1522 he received the living of Winforton in the diocese of Hereford, and in 1522 he became an advocate at Doctors' Commons. He was also rector of St. Mary Mounthaw, London, but resigned the living in 1527. Oliver seems to have been one of the many young men whom Wolsey advanced, and in 1527 was his commissary. On 4 Sept. 1527 he received the living of Pembridge in the diocese of Hereford, and on 8 Sept. 1528 that of Whitchurch, Lincolnshire; he had