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Thomas Cavendish

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- place 'London'

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Thomas Cavendish

by Jodocus Hondius
engraving, circa 1590-1592
4 1/8 in. x 3 1/8 in. (105 mm x 80 mm)
Purchased, 2004
Primary Collection
NPG 6677

Sitterback to top

  • Thomas Cavendish (1560-1592), Circumnavigator. Sitter associated with 9 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Jodocus Hondius (1563-1611), Artist, engraver and cartographer. Artist associated with 10 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This print was produced along with a companion image depicting Cavendish's predecessor and inspiration, Sir Francis Drake. Both prints may have been made to accompany a map known as the Drake and Cavendish Map of the World. The engraving was made in London some time before the artist Jodocus Hondius returned to Amsterdam in 1592 or 1593. The portrait is the only certain lifetime image of Cavendish and several later portraits in other media appear to derive from this engraving. The Latin inscription encircling the bust and map states that the image shows Cavendish as he was in life at 28 years old in 1588, the year in which he returned from his circumnavigation. The print may have been based on a lost portrait miniature.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 163 Read entry

    A prominent Elizabethan explorer, Thomas Cavendish was the second Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, sailing between 1586 and 1588. He had been taught the theory and practice of navigation by Thomas Harriot at the house of Sir Walter Ralegh and had served as second in command to Richard Grenville during the Virginia expedition of 1585. Cavendish had a reputation as a spendthrift and lost the fortune that he made from his circumnavigation; his account of his second attempted navigation, which was ill-fated from the start and which ended with his death at the age of thirty-one, survives at the Yale Center for British Art. This portrait shows Cavendish at the age of twenty-eight, in the year that he returned from his circumnavigation. It was produced along with a companion image of Cavendish's predecessor and inspiration, Sir Francis Drake, and both prints may have been made to accompany a map known as the Drake and Cavendish Map of the World. Cavendish's likeness may have been based on a lost portrait miniature. Jodocus Hondius was an engraver and cartographer from Ghent who fled to England in 1583 to escape religious persecution in the Spanish Netherlands; he remained in London for ten years.

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Subject/Themeback to top

Events of 1590back to top

Current affairs

King James VI of Scotland brings his wife Anne of Denmark to Edinburgh for her coronation at Holyrood Abbey.
Death of Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth I's Principal Secretary and spymaster.
The colonial governor John White returns to Roanoke Island (in present day North Carolina, USA) to find the settlement deserted. The lost colonists include his granddaughter Virginia Dare, the first English child to be born in America.

Art and science

The courtier, poet and soldier Sir Philip Sidney's pastoral romance Arcadia is published posthumously. It is one of the first English vernacular works to achieve a European readership, with translations into French, German, Dutch and Italian.
The poet and administrator Edmund Spenser publishes the first three books of The Faerie Queene, an epic allegorical poem in praise of Queen Elizabeth I.


Henry IV of France defeats the Catholic League under Charles, Duke of Mayenne at the Battle of Ivry. The King marches on Paris before being driven back by Catholic forces sent by Philip II of Spain.
Abbas I, Shah of Persia makes peace with the Ottoman Empire, allowing him to campaign agaist the Uzbeks.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeats the Hojo clan at the Siege of Odawara, Japan. The victory completes Hideyoshi's military reunification of Japan.

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