Sir Edward Hoby

Sir Edward Hoby, by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist, 1583 - NPG 1974 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sir Edward Hoby

by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist
oil on panel, 1583
37 1/2 in. x 29 3/4 in. (953 mm x 756 mm)
Purchased, 1923
Primary Collection
NPG 1974

Sitterback to top

  • Sir Edward Hoby (1560-1617), Scholar and favourite of James I. Sitter in 1 portrait.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) has indicated that the tree used for this panel was felled some time after 1579, and derives from the Eastern Baltic. This tells us that the wood was put to use as a panel very soon after it was imported. Hoby's baton, lower left, is inscribed with a motto which can be translated 'anger without strength is vain'. The mysterious inset scene at the top right shows a woman standing in front of a castle and holding a scroll or banner on which is written 'RECONDUTUR NO RETUDUTUR', which can be translated as 'laid aside but not blunted'. In front of her is a pile of discarded weapons and military trophies with a veil over them. Painted a year after Hoby's marriage the allegory probably refers to a break from his military career.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cooper, Tarnya; Fraser, Antonia (foreword), A Guide to Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 2012, p. 21
  • MacLeod, Catherine, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection at Montacute House, 1999, p. 21
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 306
  • Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 168

Events of 1583back to top

Current affairs

Francis Throckmorton plots to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I and place Mary, Queen of Scots on the English throne. The conspiracy is uncovered and Throckmorton is executed.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert establishes an English colony in Newfoundland. He is drowned on the return voyage.
The revolt in Munster, Ireland, against English rule ends with the execution of the rebel leader the Earl of Desmond. The region is devastated by famine and plague.

Art and science

The first recorded life insurance policy is issued in London.
The Italian botanist Andrea Cesalpino publishes De plantis (Of Plants) the first modern classification of plants.


The French Fury - François, Duke of Anjou attacks Antwerp in an attempt to assert French authority in the Spanish Netherlands. He fails to capture the city and retires to France.
The Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II moves the Imperial Court from Vienna to Prague.

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