Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I, associated with Nicholas Hilliard, circa 1575 - NPG 190 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Queen Elizabeth I

associated with Nicholas Hilliard
oil on panel, circa 1575
31 in. x 24 in. (787 mm x 610 mm)
Purchased, 1865
Primary Collection
NPG 190

On display in Room 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), Reigned 1558-1603. Sitter associated with 135 portraits.

Artistback to top

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

This portraitback to top

This portrait is known as the 'Phoenix' portrait after the prominent phoenix jewel that Elizabeth wears at her chest, which was an emblem for rebirth and chastity. She also wears a heavy jewelled collar with a red and white Tudor rose in the centre. This portrait is associated with the artist Nicholas Hilliard because of the similarity of the pattern for the face to a miniature painted in 1572 and the controlled way in which the paint has been handled. Recent research has confirmed the attribution to Hilliard because the painting shares stylistic similarities with another portrait of the queen that Hilliard painted during his time in France in the 1570s. It is evident that the position of the face was moved during the painting process, and a second set of features can be seen very faintly beneath the surface. Conservation of this painting was supported by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Project.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Bennett, Sue, Five Centuries of Women and Gardens, 2000 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 October 2000 to 21 January 2001), p. 21
  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 13
  • Bolland, Charlotte; Cooper, Tarnya, The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered, 2014 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 12th September 2014 to 1st March 2015), p. 145
  • Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina ., Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 138
  • Clare Gittings, The National Portrait Gallery Book of Elizabeth I, 2006, p. 11
  • MacLeod, Catharine; Rab, MacGibbon; Button, Victoria; Coombs, Katherine; Derbyshire, Alan, Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures from Hilliard and Oliver, 2019 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 21 February - 19 May 2019), p. 54
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 200
  • Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 101

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1575back to top

Current affairs

Queen Elizabeth I declines the offer of sovereignty of the Netherlands made by William of Orange, leader of the Dutch Protestant resistance to Spanish rule.
The royal favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester hosts a lavish entertainment for the Queen at Kenilworth.

Art and science

The composers William Byrd and Thomas Tallis dedicate Cantiones Sacrae (Sacred Songs) to Queen Elizabeth I after receiving a royal patent for the exclusive right to publish music.

International

Facing bankruptcy, Philip II of Spain suspends all payments by the Spanish crown. Don Luis de Requesens can no longer pay his troops in the Netherlands.
Akbar, Mughal Emperor of India, conquers Bengal.
The Battle of Nagashino features the first decisive use of firearms in Japanese warfare.

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