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Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton (1573-1624), Patron of Shakespeare

Sitter associated with 11 portraits
A favourite of Elizabeth I, Southampton had become earl two days before his eighth birthday. A lover of literature, he is the only known patron of Shakespeare, and in 1593 Shakespeare dedicated the witty and erotic poem Venus and Adonis to him. Southampton's tempestuous relationship with the Queen culminated in his involvement in the Essex rebellion in 1601 with his close friend the Earl of Essex. He was condemned to death when the rebellion failed, but his punishment was commuted to life imprisonment and he was released by James I.