Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester

Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester, by Unknown artist, circa 1588 - NPG 1862 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1588
39 in. x 31 1/4 in. (991 mm x 794 mm)
Purchased, 1920
Primary Collection
NPG 1862

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

He is shown wearing a 'mandilion' (a loose, hip-length coat) sideways over his shoulders, in a manner known as 'collie-westonward'. The elaborate shield and helmet are Milanese. The motto, top left, can be translated as 'I shall find a way or I shall make one' and above it is a pictorial symbol, or impresa, of burning boughs.

Linked publicationsback to top

Subjects & Themesback to top

Events of 1588back to top

Current affairs

The Spanish Armada sets sail for England from Lisbon but after a running battle up the Channel is met by English fire ships off Calais and destroyed. The remainder of the fleet is forced to flee. A huge thanksgiving service is held at St Paul's Cathedral to celebrate the victory.
Death of Queen Elizabeth I's favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

Art and science

The scientist and colonist Thomas Harriot publishes A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, in which he claims that tobacco has medicinal properties.
Publication of William Morgan's Welsh translation of the Bible.
The playwright Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy is performed for the first time.


Henry III of France flees Paris after the militant catholic Henry, Duke of Guise is welcomed into the city. The King is forced to decree an end to all toleration of the Huguenots (French Protestants) and to annul the Protestant Henry of Navarre's right to the throne. The Duke of Guise is later assassinated on the orders of the King.
Abbas I became Shah of Persia. He will rule the Persian Empire until his death in 1629.

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Howard Jones

30 September 2018, 09:34

Is the band of cloth around Sir Roberts neck and left shoulder a sling. There is a miiature of an unknown man in the V @ A Museum by Isaac Oliver of a man with his left arm in a sling and I was wondering if the Earl of Leicester had ever wounded his left arm so I was surprised to find this painting.

The right hand in this picture is unusually small. Was he left handed or right handed? A book of his original poetry has survived which provides a manuscript showing his style of writing which is said to be spiderish and difficult to read. I do not know if he wrote with his left or right hand.

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