Sir Christopher Hatton
8 of 20 portraits on display in Room 2 at the National Portrait Gallery
Sir Christopher Hatton
by Unknown English artist
oil on panel, circa 1580
37 3/4 in. x 28 1/2 in. (960 mm x 723 mm) overall
Lent by Northampton Museums & Art Gallery: UK, 2014
This portraitback to top
The painting has previously been ascribed to the workshop of William Segar but recent analysis suggests this attribution cannot be sustained. It appears to have been designed as a testament to Hatton’s achievements and is a rare survival of a decorative panel for a domestic interior of a type that must have once been more common. The text on the reverse of the painting indicates that it was part of an architectural scheme (where it was displayed in a vestibule) probably in one of Hatton’s properties at Holdenby, Northampton, or in London.
In this remarkable double-sided panel, the primary image comprises a central portrait of Hatton surrounded by astrological signs, text and emblems. On the reverse of the panel the figure of Father Time is shown above three phases of life: youth, middle-age, death and eternity. A passage of text appears beneath with a dialogue between Time and the painting (or viewer).
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1580back to top
Current affairsSir Francis Drake completes his three-year circumnavigation of the globe and returns to England in triumph.
Spanish and Italian soldiers land in Ireland to assist the Irish Catholic rebellion against English Protestant rule. Surrendering after the siege of Smerwick, the entire force is massacred under orders from the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Baron Grey of Wilton.
England signs an advantageous trade treaty with the Ottoman Empire.
Art and scienceThe French scholar and nobleman Michel de Montaigne publishes Essais (Essays), an influential development of the essay as a literary form.
Robert Smythson is employed by Sir Francis Willoughby as architect of Wollaton Hall, Nottingham, completed in 1588. It is one of the masterpieces of Elizabethan architecture.
InternationalPhilip II of Spain invades Portugal and is proclaimed King. His conquest unites the vast colonial empires of Spain and Portugal.
The heir to the French crown, François, Duke of Anjou is invited become the sovereign of the Netherlands by William of Orange, leader of the Dutch rebellion against Phillip II of Spain.
See this portrait
On display in Room 2 at the National Portrait Gallery
- Portrait of the Day: Anne Boleyn
8 December, 12:30
Tell us more
Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer