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Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton

21 of 22 portraits on display in Room 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, by Unknown artist, circa 1600 - NPG L114 - Private collection; on loan to the National Portrait Gallery, London

Private collection; on loan to the National Portrait Gallery, London

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Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1600
80 1/2 in. x 48 in. (2045 mm x 1219 mm) overall
Lent by a private collection, 1964
Primary Collection
NPG L114

On display in Room 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Southampton was known at court for his flamboyant appearance, particularly his auburn hair, which he wore long as shown in this portrait

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 70 Read entry

    Henry Wriothesley inherited his title two days before his eighth birthday and was sent to live with the Cecils in London; William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, subsequently sought to marry the young man to his eldest granddaughter, Elizabeth de Vere, but Southampton refused. In the 1590s Southampton received dedications from a number of writers, including Shakespeare in his first published works: the witty and erotic poem Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594). He secretly married his mistress Elizabeth Vernon, one of the queen's maids of honour, after she became pregnant in 1598, and both were briefly imprisoned in Fleet prison. He was convicted of involvement in the Essex rebellion in 1601, but his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and James I later released him and reinstated his earldom. Southampton was known at court for his flamboyant appearance and auburn hair, which he wore long, as in this portrait. His armour is French and was probably purchased when he travelled to Paris on a diplomatic mission in 1598; it is etched with a design of entwined snakes and vines, and survives in the British Museum.

  • Charles Nicholl, Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, 2015, p. 127
  • Nicholl, Charles, Character Sketches: Elizabethan Writers, 1997, p. 57
  • Nicholl, Charles, Insights: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, 2005, p. 100
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 576

Events of 1600back to top

Current affairs

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex is put on trial for failing to put an end to the rebellion in Ireland, attempting to negotiate a truce with the rebel leader Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and deserting his post.
Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, replaces Essex as Lord Deputy of Ireland.
The East India Company receives its Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I.
Birth of Prince Charles in Scotland (later King Charles I).

Art and science

William Shakespeare writes Hamlet.
The scientist William Gilbert writes De magnete ('on the magnet'), which pioneers research into the properties of the lodestone (magnetic iron ore) and introduces the terms 'electricity' and 'magnetic pole'.
The miniature painter Nicholas Hilliard works on his painting treatise The Art of Limning at this time.

International

Henry IV of France marries Marie de Medici from the powerful ruling family of Florence, Italy.
The Italian astronomer, philosopher and mathematician Giordano Bruno is sentenced to death by the Roman Inquisition and burned at the stake for heresy.
Following the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu seizes control of Japan at the Battle of Sekigahara.

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