Probably Sir Robert Dudley
1 portrait on display in Room 33 at the National Portrait Gallery
Probably Sir Robert Dudley
by Unknown artist
oil on panel, 1590s
18 1/8 in. x 14 5/8 in. (460 mm x 372 mm)
Sitterback to top
- Sir Robert Dudley (1574-1649), Mariner and landowner. Sitter associated with 2 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This portrait was previously thought to depict the poet Sir Thomas Overbury who appears to have been murdered in 1613. However, both the facial likeness and the past history of the painting reveal that it is more likely to represent Sir Robert Dudley, the illegitimate son of the Earl of Leicester, Queen Elizabeth I's favourite. In the nineteenth century the portrait was part of a large collection of paintings at Ditchley in Oxfordshire. The house had been part of the estate of Sir Henry Lee (1533-1611), Elizabeth I's champion and godfather to Robert Dudley. It is possible that either Lee commissioned the portrait or that Dudley presented it to Lee and that it remained at Ditchley thereafter. In 1591 Dudley took part in his first ceremonial tilting tournament and also married Margaret Cavendish (d.1595). These events may well have been a reason to commission this portrait. The panel painting has been cut down on three sides and was originally larger (perhaps showing both head and torso or even full length portrait).
Linked publicationsback to top
- Cooper, Tarnya, Searching for Shakespeare, 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 29 May 2006), p. 66
- Cooper, Tarnya, Searching for Shakespeare (hardback), 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 29 May 2006), p. 66
- Cooper, Tarnya (introduction) Banville, John (character sketch) Chevalier, Tracy (character sketch) Fellowes, Julian (character sketch) McCall Smith, Alexander (character sketch) Pratchett, Terry (character sketch) Singleton, Sarah (character sketch) Trollope, Joanna (character sketch) Waters, Minette (character sketch), Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from December 2011 - June 2012), p. 41
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 689
- Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 239
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People (3 December 2011 - 8 July 2012)
Events of 1590back to top
Current affairsKing James VI of Scotland brings his wife Anne of Denmark to Edinburgh for her coronation at Holyrood Abbey.
Death of Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth I's Principal Secretary and spymaster.
The colonial governor John White returns to Roanoke Island (in present day North Carolina, USA) to find the settlement deserted. The lost colonists include his granddaughter Virginia Dare, the first English child to be born in America.
Art and scienceThe courtier, poet and soldier Sir Philip Sidney's pastoral romance Arcadia is published posthumously. It is one of the first English vernacular works to achieve a European readership, with translations into French, German, Dutch and Italian.
The poet and administrator Edmund Spenser publishes the first three books of The Faerie Queene, an epic allegorical poem in praise of Queen Elizabeth I.
InternationalHenry IV of France defeats the Catholic League under Charles, Duke of Mayenne at the Battle of Ivry. The King marches on Paris before being driven back by Catholic forces sent by Philip II of Spain.
Abbas I, Shah of Persia makes peace with the Ottoman Empire, allowing him to campaign agaist the Uzbeks.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeats the Hojo clan at the Siege of Odawara, Japan. The victory completes Hideyoshi's military reunification of Japan.
Exhibitions and displays
- Life, Death and Memory
Until 4 February 2018
- Portrait of the Day: Henry VIII & Katherine of Aragon
17 December, 12:30
Tell us more
Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer