Sir Francis Walsingham
1 portrait by John De Critz the Elder
Sir Francis Walsingham
by Unknown artist
oil on panel, circa 1585
14 3/4 in. x 11 3/4 in. (375 mm x 298 mm)
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Sitterback to top
- Sir Francis Walsingham (circa 1532-1590), Statesman. Sitter associated with 30 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This portrait is a reversed version of the only known portrait type of Walsingham, which is associated with the artist John de Critz the Elder, who received extensive patronage from Walsingham in the 1580s. Although Walsingham, or the individual who commissioned this portrait, would probably have been unaware of it, technical analysis has shown that this panel has been reused. Investigations have revealed the fascinating juxtaposition of a portrait of the Protestant spymaster superimposed over a small devotional image of the Virgin and Child. In x-ray two figures can be seen beneath the portrait, one figure is likely to be the Virgin Mary, possibly with the infant Christ in her lap; the second figure could be St. Joseph or an angel.
Linked publicationsback to top
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Hidden: Unseen paintings beneath Tudor Portraits (3 January 2013 - 2 June 2013)
Events of 1585back to top
Current affairsAnglo-Dutch treaty of alliance against Spain is signed at Nonsuch Palace.
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester arrives in the Netherlands with 7,000 soldiers to fight for the Dutch Protestant cause and is appointed Governor-General of the Netherlands.
An expedition, funded by Sir Walter Ralegh and led by his cousin, Sir Richard Grenville, establishes an ill-fated colony on Roanoke Island. The area is named Virginia after Queen Elizabeth I.
Art and scienceMiniature of Sir Walter Ralegh is painted by Nicholas Hilliard at about this time.
The publisher Robert Waldegrave is imprisoned for printing Puritan books.
The explorer John Davis discovers the strait named after him between Greenland and Canada while searching for the Northwest Passage to the Far East.
InternationalHenry III of France bows to pressure from the militant Catholic Henry, Duke of Guise to sign the Treaty of Nemours, which revokes all toleration of Huguenots. Opposition to the legal heir to the crown, the Protestant Henry of Navarre provokes the final French War of Religion.
Sack of Antwerp by Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma, the Hapsburg Governor of the Netherlands. The city's pre-eminence as a centre of international commerce is lost to Amsterdam.
Exhibitions and displays
- Life, Death and Memory
Until 4 February 2018
- Portrait of the Day: Henry VIII & Katherine of Aragon
17 December, 12:30
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Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer