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Queen Elizabeth I

4 of 125 portraits of Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I, by Nicholas Hilliard, 1572 - NPG 108 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Queen Elizabeth I

by Nicholas Hilliard
watercolour on vellum, 1572
2 in. x 1 7/8 in. (51 mm x 48 mm) oval
Purchased, 1860
Primary Collection
NPG 108

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Sitterback to top

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

Artistback to top

  • Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), Miniature painter. Artist associated with 34 portraits.

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This remarkable picture is the earliest known miniature of the queen, painted when she was 38 years old. It may be the portrait that the artist, Hilliard, describes painting in his treatise, The Arte of Limning, in which he relates recommending to the queen an 'open light' for miniature painting, with no shadow, for which he says she chose to sit in 'the open alley of a goodly garden, where no tree was near'. The reverse of the playing card (which is no longer visible) is documented as using the figure of a queen.

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