Queen Elizabeth I

1 portrait

Queen Elizabeth I, by Unknown English artist, circa 1588 - NPG 541 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Queen Elizabeth I

by Unknown English artist
oil on panel, circa 1588
38 1/2 in. x 28 1/2 in. (978 mm x 724 mm)
Transferred from British Museum, 1879
Primary Collection
NPG 541


Click on the links below to find out more:

Share this

Sitterback to top

  • Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), Reigned 1558-1603. Sitter associated with 127 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

This portrait was painted to commemorate the most famous conflict of Elizabeth's reign, the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. It was originally of the same horizontal format as two other known versions of this painting. Here we can see the scenes behind the Queen showing, on the left, the English fire ships setting out in clear, calm weather and on the right the Spanish fleet being wrecked off the dark, rocky coast of Scotland or Ireland. Elizabeth's hand rests on a globe, her fingers over the Americas, indicating England's dominion of the seas and expansion into the New World.

Linked publicationsback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1588back to top

Current affairs

The Spanish Armada sets sail for England from Lisbon but after a running battle up the Channel is met by English fire ships off Calais and destroyed. The remainder of the fleet is forced to flee. A huge thanksgiving service is held at St Paul's Cathedral to celebrate the victory. Death of Queen Elizabeth I's favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

Art and science

The scientist and colonist Thomas Harriot publishes A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, in which he claims that tobacco has medicinal properties. Publication of William Morgan's Welsh translation of the Bible. The playwright Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy is performed for the first time.

International

Henry III of France flees Paris after the militant catholic Henry, Duke of Guise is welcomed into the city. The King is forced to decree an end to all toleration of the Huguenots (French Protestants) and to annul the Protestant Henry of Navarre's right to the throne. The Duke of Guise is later assassinated on the orders of the King. Abbas I became Shah of Persia. He will rule the Persian Empire until his death in 1629.

Tell us moreback to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.

Citationclose

How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your nameclose

If you tick permission to publish your name will appear above your contribution on our website.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.