Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton
Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton
by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1600
80 1/2 in. x 48 in. (2045 mm x 1219 mm) overall
Lent by a private collection, 1964
Sitterback to top
- Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton (1573-1624), Patron of Shakespeare. Sitter associated with 11 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Southampton was known at court for his flamboyant appearance, particularly his auburn hair, which he wore long as shown in this portrait
Linked publicationsback to top
- Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 70 Read entry
Henry Wriothesley inherited his title two days before his eighth birthday and was sent to live with the Cecils in London; William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, subsequently sought to marry the young man to his eldest granddaughter, Elizabeth de Vere, but Southampton refused. In the 1590s Southampton received dedications from a number of writers, including Shakespeare in his first published works: the witty and erotic poem Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594). He secretly married his mistress Elizabeth Vernon, one of the queen's maids of honour, after she became pregnant in 1598, and both were briefly imprisoned in Fleet prison. He was convicted of involvement in the Essex rebellion in 1601, but his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and James I later released him and reinstated his earldom. Southampton was known at court for his flamboyant appearance and auburn hair, which he wore long, as in this portrait. His armour is French and was probably purchased when he travelled to Paris on a diplomatic mission in 1598; it is etched with a design of entwined snakes and vines, and survives in the British Museum.
- Charles Nicholl, Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, 2015, p. 127
- Nicholl, Charles, Character Sketches: Elizabethan Writers, 1997, p. 57
- Nicholl, Charles, Insights: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, 2005, p. 100
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 576
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.
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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.
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Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.
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- Searching for Shakespeare
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