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Queen Elizabeth I

1 of 125 portraits of Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I, by Unknown English artist, circa 1560 - NPG 4449 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Queen Elizabeth I

by Unknown English artist
oil on panel, circa 1560
15 1/2 in. x 10 3/4 in. (394 mm x 273 mm)
Purchased, 1965
Primary Collection
NPG 4449


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  • Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), Reigned 1558-1603. Sitter associated with 125 portraits.

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This portrait dates from the early years of Elizabeth's reign when she was in her late-twenties or early-thirties. It was painted before she became associated with the more complex emblems of virginity that are often found in later portraits, and when she was still expected to enter into marriage. Recent technical analysis has shown that the background of this portrait was originally a vibrant shade of blue which has now faded to a pale brown. This is due to the presence of an unstable blue pigment called 'smalt'. The Queen's features have been sketched out over a pale pink ground and then painted over in one thin layer. Some of the under drawing is still just visible beneath the paint layer. It may have hung originally as part of a group of royal portraits acting as a painted record of English monarchy.

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