Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I
by Unknown artist
oil on panel, 1580s-1590s
26 1/4 in. x 19 1/4 in. (666 mm x 488 mm)
Given by Mines Royal, Mineral and Battery Societies, 1865
Sitterback to top
- Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), Reigned 1558-1603. Sitter associated with 135 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Paint loss from the surface has made it difficult to see how it would have originally looked, but has revealed information about the history of the painting. The portrait of Elizabeth has been painted over an unfinished portrait of an entirely different female sitter. The eyes and nose of the face underneath can now be seen where paint has been lost from Elizabeth's forehead. The identity of the original sitter remains a mystery but her headdress, which can be just made out, appears to date from the 1570s or 1580s.
Related worksback to top
- NPG D40453: Artist's impression of how the serpent in NPG200 might originally have looked (source portrait)
Linked publicationsback to top
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Concealed and Revealed: The Changing Faces of Elizabeth I (13 March 2010 - 26 September 2010)
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1580back to top
Current affairsSir Francis Drake completes his three-year circumnavigation of the globe and returns to England in triumph.
Spanish and Italian soldiers land in Ireland to assist the Irish Catholic rebellion against English Protestant rule. Surrendering after the siege of Smerwick, the entire force is massacred under orders from the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Baron Grey of Wilton.
England signs an advantageous trade treaty with the Ottoman Empire.
Art and scienceThe French scholar and nobleman Michel de Montaigne publishes Essais (Essays), an influential development of the essay as a literary form.
Robert Smythson is employed by Sir Francis Willoughby as architect of Wollaton Hall, Nottingham, completed in 1588. It is one of the masterpieces of Elizabethan architecture.
InternationalPhilip II of Spain invades Portugal and is proclaimed King. His conquest unites the vast colonial empires of Spain and Portugal.
The heir to the French crown, François, Duke of Anjou is invited become the sovereign of the Netherlands by William of Orange, leader of the Dutch rebellion against Phillip II of Spain.
Become a Member
Enjoy access to special events, discounts on the Gallery online shop, supporters’ updates and much more
Bringing people together by sharing the portraits and stories of the men and women who have shaped our nation.
Sign up to receive information on exhibitions, collections and activities of the National Portrait Gallery, including special offers, shop products, and exclusive competitions.
- Searching for Shakespeare
- Making History: Printed Portraiture in Tudor and Stuart Britain
- NPG D48090 in 360°
- Tudor Miniatures
- My Favourite Portrait by Fiona Shaw
- My Favourite Portrait by P.D. James
- Concealed and Revealed: The Changing Faces of Elizabeth I
- Hidden: Unseen Paintings Beneath Tudor Portraits
- Kings and Queens: A Family tree
- Tudor pick up guides
- Who do you think you were?
- Tudor and Elizabethan matching pairs
- Queen Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard
- On panel making and the post-1600 Holbein panels
- Silhouettes display, 2004-05
- Return to Life: A New Look at the Portrait Bust
- 2019 Anniversaries
- William Hazlitt's Spirit of the Age
- Mary, Queen of Scots: Fact and Fiction
- Restoration Lives: Samuel Pepys and His Circle
- Brilliant Women
- Chartist Portraits
- Mary, Queen of Scots
- Nelson: before and after Trafalgar
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Art Conservation Project
- Rebel women
- Theodore de Mayerne
- Popular Prints of Victoria and Albert
- Gunpowder, Treason and Plot
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints
Choose your favourite portrait from our Collection as a framed or unframed print for your home.