Sir Walter Ralegh
7 of 34 portraits by Nicholas Hilliard
Sir Walter Ralegh
by Nicholas Hilliard
watercolour on vellum, circa 1585
1 7/8 in. x 1 5/8 in. (48 mm x 41 mm) oval
Purchased with help from the Art Fund and the Pilgrim Trust, 1959
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Sir Walter Ralegh (1554-1618), Soldier, sailor, poet and writer. Sitter in 48 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), Miniature painter. Artist associated with 34 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This appears to be the earliest portrait of Walter Ralegh, painted around the time he received his patent to colonize America. Tall, dark-haired and pale, Ralegh is fashionably dressed with a wide ruff that was popular in the 1580s and early 1590s.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Tudor Portraits Resource Pack, p. 31
- Charles Nicholl, Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, 2015, p. 121
- Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 15
- Cooper, Tarnya, Searching for Shakespeare (hardback), 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 29 May 2006), p. 189
- Cooper, Tarnya, Searching for Shakespeare, 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 29 May 2006), p. 189
- MacLeod, Catharine, Tudor Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 31
- MacLeod, Catharine (preface, appreciation) Wilks, Timothy (introduction) Smuts, Malcolm (appreciation) MacGibbon, Rab (appendix), The Lost Prince: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart, 2012 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 18 October 2012 to 13 January 2013), p. 149
- Nicholl, Charles, Character Sketches: Elizabethan Writers, 1997, p. 50
- Nicholl, Charles, Insights: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, 2005, p. 95
- Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 55
- Rogers, Malcolm, Master Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery, 1993 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 August to 23 October 1994), p. 23
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 511
- Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 255
- Walker, Richard, Miniatures: 300 Years of the English Miniature, 1998, p. 20
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
Events of 1585back to top
Current affairsAnglo-Dutch treaty of alliance against Spain is signed at Nonsuch Palace.Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester arrives in the Netherlands with 7,000 soldiers to fight for the Dutch Protestant cause and is appointed Governor-General of the Netherlands.An expedition, funded by Sir Walter Ralegh and led by his cousin, Sir Richard Grenville, establishes an ill-fated colony on Roanoke Island. The area is named Virginia after Queen Elizabeth I.
Art and scienceMiniature of Sir Walter Ralegh is painted by Nicholas Hilliard at about this time.The publisher Robert Waldegrave is imprisoned for printing Puritan books. The explorer John Davis discovers the strait named after him between Greenland and Canada while searching for the Northwest Passage to the Far East.
InternationalHenry III of France bows to pressure from the militant Catholic Henry, Duke of Guise to sign the Treaty of Nemours, which revokes all toleration of Huguenots. Opposition to the legal heir to the crown, the Protestant Henry of Navarre provokes the final French War of Religion. Sack of Antwerp by Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma, the Hapsburg Governor of the Netherlands. The city's pre-eminence as a centre of international commerce is lost to Amsterdam.
Exhibitions and displays
- The Tudors Reimagined: George Perfect Harding
Until 14 February