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Lunchtime Lecture: Elizabeth I’s Appearance

3 October 2019, 13:15

Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.

Queen Elizabeth I ('The Ditchley portrait')
by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
circa 1592
NPG 2561

Immerse yourself in history, art and culture at our popular Lunchtime Lectures. Doors open at 12.45. Lectures begin at 13.15 and last approximately one hour.

In 1593, Queen Elizabeth I celebrated her 60th birthday. What did she look like at 60? In modern screen representations the older Elizabeth is usually in a grotesque state of physical decay, with flaking white make-up, black teeth, and a garish orange wig. However, the visual and written evidence from the early 1590s is far richer and more complex than this. Using portraits, literature, and eye-witness accounts from the period, this lecture will investigate how the ageing Queen was viewed by her contemporaries, and will ask: can we discover the truth of what Elizabeth was like at 60? This lecture will be given by literary scholar Professor Helen Hackett and art historian Karen Hearn, Honorary Professor, both of University College London.

Helen Hackett is Professor of English Literature at University College London. Her publications include Virgin Mother, Maiden Queen: Elizabeth I and the Cult of the Virgin Mary and Shakespeare and Elizabeth: The Meeting of Two Myths. She is currently writing a study of The Elizabethan Mind.

Karen Hearn was previously the Curator of 16th & 17th Century British Art at Tate Britain, where she curated the landmark exhibition Dynasties: Painting in Tudor & Jacobean England 1530-1630. A prolific author on the art of these periods, she is now an Honorary Professor at University College London.

Priority booking for Gallery Members is open now. Public booking will open on Thursday 8 August 2019.