Sir Francis Drake

1 portrait on display in Room 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sir Francis Drake, by Unknown artist, circa 1580 - NPG 4032 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir Francis Drake

by Unknown artist
oil on panel, circa 1580
71 3/8 in. x 44 1/2 in. (1813 mm x 1130 mm)
Purchased, 1957
Primary Collection
NPG 4032


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  • Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596), Admiral and circumnavigator. Sitter associated with 36 portraits.

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The most famous of all English seafarers, Drake earned his fame and fortune through his skilful seamanship and outstandingly successful piracy. His circumnavigation of the globe from 1577-81 involved a number of very profitable raids on Spanish ships and ports. Drake's increasingly frequent and serious attacks during the 1580s were an important factor contributing to Philip II's decision to launch the Armada which was in turn defeated by the English fleet. In this full-length portrait Drake rests his hand on a globe which, intriguingly, is orientated the other way up from modern representations of the planet. The names of the continents are marked in French.

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