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Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury

3 of 9 portraits by John De Critz the Elder

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, by John De Critz the Elder, 1602 - NPG 107 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury

by John De Critz the Elder
oil on panel, 1602
35 1/2 in. x 28 7/8 in. (902 mm x 734 mm)
Given by David Laing, 1860
Primary Collection
NPG 107


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Like his father William Cecil, Baron Burghley, Salisbury dedicated his life to politics. An MP for Westminster and then for Hertfordshire he was later made Secretary of State, an office he had held for six years when this portrait was painted. On the table beside him is bell, an embroidered seal bag and two letters, one of which details his various offices. Cecil was of small stature with some slight curvature of the spine and was referred to by Elizabeth I as her 'elf' and by James I as his 'pygmy' or 'little beagle'. His motto 'Sero, sed serio' is included in the portrait and can be translated as 'late but in earnest'.
A similar face pattern to that used to produce this portrait was used in the depiction of the sitter in The Somerset House Conference.

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