Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I
by Unknown artist
oil on panel, early 17th century with 18th century overpainting
33 1/2 in. x 26 3/8 in. (851 mm x 670 mm)
Transferred from British Museum, 1879
Sitterback to top
- Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), Reigned 1558-1603. Sitter associated with 135 portraits.
This portraitback to top
The portrait of Elizabeth that can be seen at first glance was virtually all painted in the eighteenth century. Technical analysis has revealed that this image was painted over the top of an early seventeenth-century portrait, perhaps because of damage to the original portrait. Dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) indicates that the wood used for the panel was felled some time after 1604, just after the queen's death. Therefore the original portrait was posthumous, based on a pattern developed during Elizabeth's lifetime. The use of x-radiography has revealed that in the original portrait, the queen wore large decorative 'wings' wired out behind her back and a veil that fell down her back. This costume was particularly fashionable in the 1590s but must have been considered rather odd over a hundred years later and was painted out.
Linked publicationsback to top
- 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. 159
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 200
- Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 108
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered (12 September 2014 - 1 March 2015)
- Concealed and Revealed: The Changing Faces of Elizabeth I (13 March 2010 - 26 September 2010)
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1600back to top
Current affairsRobert 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 scienceWilliam 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.
InternationalHenry 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.
Watch our playlist exploring scientific techniques used by the Gallery to unlock the secrets behind our Tudor portraits.
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