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George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury

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George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury

by Unknown artist
black, brown and red chalk, inscribed 1582
13 in. x 8 7/8 in. (330 mm x 225 mm)
Purchased, 1995
Primary Collection
NPG 6343

Sitterback to top

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This portraitback to top

The high level of finish suggests that this drawing is copied from a painting or another drawing. The style appears French and the French inscription identifying Shrewsbury may be contemporary with the drawing.
A surviving letter to Shrewsbury from a French diplomat, François de Civille, includes a plea for the earl to dispatch his portrait so that it could be sent to the Duke of Bouillon. Mary, Queen of Scots had numerous French supporters and it is, therefore, possible that a portrait of Shrewsbury was sent to France and that further copies were made there.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 2822: George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury (based on same portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Tudor Portraits Resource Pack, p. 29
  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 67 Read entry

    George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, was one of the wealthiest men in England and lord lieutenant of the counties of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire; he married Bess of Hardwick in 1567 in a triple wedding alongside four of their children from previous marriages. Two years later he was chosen by Elizabeth I to be the custodian of Mary, Queen of Scots, who remained in his charge for fourteen years, most of which were spent at Sheffield Castle. He was subsequently appointed Lord High Steward for the trial of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. The French inscription identifying Shrewsbury may be contemporary with the drawing. It has been partially cut down and records that Shrewsbury's likeness was taken at Sheffield Castle during Mary, Queen of Scots's captivity; however, the date of 1582 appears to be a later addition and may not be correct. A number of portraits of Mary seem to have circulated in France during her imprisonment, and it seems that, as her gaoler, Shrewsbury's portrait was also in demand; he received a letter from a French diplomat, François de Civille, pleading for him to send his portrait so that it could be sent to the duc de Bouillon. Such interest in his imagery in France could have led to the production of copies of his portrait.

  • MacLeod, Catharine, Tudor Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 29
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 563

Subject/Themeback to top

Events of 1582back to top

Current affairs

Raid of Ruthven - King James VI of Scotland is kidnapped by a group of Presbyterian nobles, led by William Ruthven, Earl of Gowrie. The plotters rule Scotland for ten months with the approval of Queen Elizabeth I and the Scottish Kirk.

Art and science

The courtier, poet and soldier Sir Philip Sidney writes Astrophil and Stella, a collection of love sonnets and songs, and A Defence of Poetry, one of the first pieces of literary criticism in English.
Death of the scholar George Buchanan and posthumous publication of his history of Scotland, Rerum Scoticarum historia (Histories of Scottish Matters).
The poet and dramatist William Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway.


The Gregorian Calendar (named after Pope Gregory XIII), which advances the date by ten day, is adopted throughout Catholic Europe. Protestant countries continue to use the old dating system, the Julian Calendar, until the eighteenth century.
The Peace of Jam-Zapolski concludes the Livonian War between Russia and Poland. Russia cedes Livonia and Estonia to Poland and loses access to the Baltic Sea.

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