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Probably Sir Robert Dudley

1 of 2 portraits of Sir Robert Dudley

Probably Sir Robert Dudley, by Unknown artist, 1590s - NPG 2613 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Probably Sir Robert Dudley

by Unknown artist
oil on panel, 1590s
18 1/8 in. x 14 5/8 in. (460 mm x 372 mm)
Purchased, 1933
Primary Collection
NPG 2613


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Sitterback to top

  • Sir Robert Dudley (1574-1649), Mariner and landowner. Sitter associated with 2 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

This portrait was previously thought to depict the poet Sir Thomas Overbury who appears to have been murdered in 1613. However, both the facial likeness and the past history of the painting reveal that it is more likely to represent Sir Robert Dudley, the illegitimate son of the Earl of Leicester, Queen Elizabeth I's favourite. In the nineteenth century the portrait was part of a large collection of paintings at Ditchley in Oxfordshire. The house had been part of the estate of Sir Henry Lee (1533-1611), Elizabeth I's champion and godfather to Robert Dudley. It is possible that either Lee commissioned the portrait or that Dudley presented it to Lee and that it remained at Ditchley thereafter. In 1591 Dudley took part in his first ceremonial tilting tournament and also married Margaret Cavendish (d.1595). These events may well have been a reason to commission this portrait. The panel painting has been cut down on three sides and was originally larger (perhaps showing both head and torso or even full length portrait).


Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cooper, Tarnya, Searching for Shakespeare (hardback), 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 29 May 2006), p. 66
  • Cooper, Tarnya, Searching for Shakespeare, 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 29 May 2006), p. 66
  • Cooper, Tarnya (introduction) Banville, John (character sketch) Chevalier, Tracy (character sketch) Fellowes, Julian (character sketch) McCall Smith, Alexander (character sketch) Pratchett, Terry (character sketch) Singleton, Sarah (character sketch) Trollope, Joanna (character sketch) Waters, Minette (character sketch), Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from December 2011 - June 2012), p. 41
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 689
  • Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 239

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Subjects & Themesback to top