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Princess Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia and Electress Palatine

2 of 45 portraits of Princess Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia and Electress Palatine

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Princess Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia and Electress Palatine

by Unknown artist
oil on panel, 1613
30 7/8 in. x 24 1/2 in. (784 mm x 622 mm)
Purchased, 1982
Primary Collection
NPG 5529

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Painted at the time of her marriage to Frederick, Elector Palatine, this portrait probably shows Elizabeth in her wedding dress. The royal coat of arms and the heraldic lion and unicorn can be seen on her lace collar. The black arm band is in memory of her brother, Henry, Prince of Wales, who had died the previous year.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 51 Read entry

    Named after her godmother Elizabeth I of England, Princess Elizabeth was James VI and Anne of Denmark’s only surviving daughter. In 1605, the conspirators behind the Gunpowder plot intended to set her up as a puppet Catholic queen if their plan to blow up the House of Lords and kill King James and Prince Henry had been successful. As a princess, she was an asset in the international marriage market that bound the royal houses of Europe in diplomatic and political alliances, and she was married to Frederick, Count Palatine, in order to bolster Protestant power in Germany. In 1619, Frederick accepted the throne of Bohemia, but within a year he and Elizabeth had been expelled from their dominions by the Catholic League, and were forced to live in exile in The Hague. Initially described in scorn as the ‘Winter Queen’ because her reign had lasted only a single winter, the term was adopted by her supporters as a sign of affectionate respect. This portrait was probably painted around the time of Elizabeth’s marriage. She outranked her future husband, and the elaborate heraldic lace of her standing collar contains clear references to her royal status. The marriage was overshadowed by Prince Henry’s death during the preparations; the black band around her left arm is a sign of mourning, and it is possible that the locket that she wears over her heart contained a portrait of her brother.

  • Cooper, Tarnya, Searching for Shakespeare, 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 29 May 2006), p. 170
  • Cooper, Tarnya, Searching for Shakespeare (hardback), 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 29 May 2006), p. 170
  • MacLeod, Catharine (preface, appreciation) Wilks, Timothy (introduction) Smuts, Malcolm (appreciation) MacGibbon, Rab (appendix), The Lost Prince: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart, 2012 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 18 October 2012 to 13 January 2013), p. 168
  • Ribeiro, Aileen, The Gallery of Fashion, 2000, p. 60
  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 78
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 203

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1613back to top

Current affairs

Earl of Suffolk's daughter, Francis Howard marries the king's favourite, Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset. Only months before, courtier Sir Thomas Overbury who opposed the marriage, dies in the Tower; by 1615 the couple are convicted of his murder.
James I's daughter, Princess Elizabeth, marries Frederick V, elector palatine.

Art and science

One of the most important dramatists of the age, John Fletcher, collaborates with William Shakespeare on two plays, Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen.
The Globe Theatre burns down during a performance of William Shakespeare's Henry VIII.


Philip III of Spain sends ambassador, Diego Sarmiento de Acuña to England. His post is dominated with the issue concerning a possible marriage alliance between James I's eldest son, Charles, and Philip's second eldest daughter, Maria Anna. The match is much favoured by the James I's Catholic consort, Queen Anne.

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Penny Howard

19 April 2017, 17:52

I am sure that you know this, but I believe that Elizabeth is wearing the pearls left to Elizabeth's father James 1 after the death of Queen Elizabeth 1, who had got them from Mary Queen of Scots when she was in prison in England.
Mary had been given them by Catherine de Medici on her wedding to Francis II and took them with her to Scotland after his death, and also on escaping to England after her disastrous marriage to Boswell. Elizabeth 1 appropriated them, whilst hosting her "beloved cousin" & wore them until she died.

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