The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Concealed and Revealed: The Changing Faces of Elizabeth I

Past display archive
13 March - 26 September 2010

Room 2

Free

Queen Elizabeth I
by Unknown artist
1580s-1590s
NPG 200

A snake with a curling tail and the face of a mysterious unknown young woman hide beneath a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. Why were these hidden images painted and and what can they tell us about the portraiture of England's best known queen? The snake was part of an original design for a portrait of Elizabeth I dating from the 1580s, but was painted out before the picture was finished. This picture is included in a new display highlighting recent research on several remarkable portraits of Elizabeth I.

This picture is included in a new display highlighting recent research on several remarkable portraits of Elizabeth I. This research has been undertaken as part of the project, Making Art in Tudor Britain project.

In focus - Elizabeth I with hidden serpent
In focus - Elizabeth I 'Darnley portrait'
In focus - Elizabeth in her early years and a posthumous portrait

Find out more about Making Art in Tudor Britain

Get Creative

Develop your art skills

Discover our BP Next Generation short films made by artists. Follow step by step guides in drawing and painting techniques.

Improve your skills

Hold Still

Hold Still photography workshop

Reflect on your own experiences of lockdown through this easy-to-do from home, photographic exercise. 

Watch the video

Draw Like a Renaissance Master

Revisit The Encounter exhibition and learn about Renaissance and Baroque drawing methods and materials.

Improve your technique