Apr 152011
 


Elizabeth’s signature

Portraits of Elizabeth I., sorted by approximate painting date.

This site is still under construction, so that some images and descriptions are still missing.
I’m trying hard to update this site to the final version; please be patient.

I’m trying to keep this collection as complete as possible, so far with more than 60 portraits.
However, as there are so many surviving portraits of the Queen that I would never claim that the below shown collection of paintings, engravings, woodcuts, panels, illuminations et cetera of Queen Elizabeth I. indeed contains *all* the surviving, pictorial material in which the queen appeared.
I’m always grateful, however, if you would like to point me to any portrait I might have forgotten to list here – simply because I don’t know about it (I *can’t* know *everything*, right…? ).

If you should have any information on portraits that are missing here, or on information on portraits that are displayed here but have information missing (e. g. present whereabouts), please don’t hesitate to email me – the address is given at the bottom of each page in this web.

I have digitally edited most of the pictures shown here – to correct colors and to enhance sharpness.

Painting Title Painter year can be found in… Comments

Elizabeth as Princess
(Age: ~13 years)
William Scrots c1546-47 Royal Collection, Windsor Castle

Portrait was sent as a gift to Elizabeth’s half-brother, King Edward VI. Elizabeth wrote in the letter accompanying the gift:
‘For the face, I grant, I might well blush to offer, but the mind I shall never be ashamed to present. ….when you shall look on my picture you will witsafe to think that as you have but the outward shadow of the body before you, so my inward mind wisheth that the body itself were oftener in your presence.’


Cropped from a dynastic portrait of Henry VIII and his children.
Coronation” Portrait unknown artist c1600 National Portrait Gallery Copy of a lost painting made to commemorate Elizabeth’s accession in 1558, therefore placed in this year.
Elizabeth’s coronation procession unknown artist 1558
Clopton Portrait unknown artist c1560
Elizabeth I. unknown artist 1563
Elizabeth with verses unknown artist / British school c1565 The inscription at the bottom of the frame is supposedly Elizabeth’s reply to a Marian priest when questioned about Christ’s presence in the Sacrament –
‘Twas God the word that spake it,
He took the Bread and brake it;
And what the word did make it;
That I believe, and take it.’
Elizabeth at prayer c. 1569 From the frontispiece of her personal prayer book
“Elizabeth and the tree Goddesses”
(Detail)
Hans Eworth 1569 Royal Collection
Colored sketch Federico Zuccaro 1570 Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire
Queen Elizabeth I – Engraving Remigius Hogenberg 1570 private collection
Miniature portrait on vellum playing card Nicholas Hilliard 1572 National Portrait Gallery,
London
Note the likeliness to the gown in the “Pelican” portrait!

The Family of Henry VIII: An Allegory of the Tudor Succession (or: “The Family of Henry VIII accompanied by Peace, Plenty and Mars”) attributed to Lucas de Heere 1572 Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire Image of Elizabeth cropped from the painting (below).
Elizabeth appears to the right of her father, Henry VIII, holding the hand of Peace and followed by Plenty.
The figure of Peace steps upon the sword of discord.
To the left of Elizabeth is her half-brother, Edward VI, kneeling at Henry’s side – this is the half-brother she gifted the ‘Princess’ portrait with.
Queen Elizabeth I unknown artist 1570-72 National Trust, Anglesey Abbey
Red chalk drawing Federico Zuccaro 1574 Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire
Queen Elizabeth I. unknown artist 1570-75 Raveningham Hall, Norfolk
Queen Elizabeth I.
in white-golden gown
unknown artist 1571-75 Reading Borough Council This picture was painted several times; see below.
Darnley’ portrait unknown artist 1575 National Portrait Gallery
Pelican Portrait Nicholas Hilliard 1575 National Portrait Gallery Note that the ‘Phoenix‘ portrait below is basically a mirrored version of this ‘Pelican’ portrait, just with a different gown!
Phoenix Portrait Nicholas Hilliard 1575 National Portrait Gallery So sorry; I currently only have this scan, which shows the dress but not Elizabeth’s head.
Will rescan the picture as soon as possible.
Note:
If you would like to re-create Queen Elizabeth’s ‘Phoenix’ gown from the painting, there’s a reprint of the black fabric with the pearls available here on Spoonflower.
The very same design, without the pearls (in case you’d like to add your own…), is available as a reprint here; and also, there’s a cream / gold version of that fabric with the pearls available here on Spoonflower.
Note that while reprints of this design aren’t exactly historically accurate (after all, the original was decorated with cording embroidery and real pearls!); but they’re a good possibility to ‘get the look’ without having to invest too much work.

“Drake” Jewel Nicholas Hilliard 1575 The medallion may be from 1575, but the miniature portrait seems to have been painted later, because of the large neck ruff, I’d estimate it to be more like 1585.
Queen Elizabeth I. unknown artist 1575 Present whereabouts unknown
Woodcut from the booke of faulconcrie G. Tuberville 1575
Woodcut from the booke of faulconcrie G. Tuberville 1575
“Phoenix Jewel” unknown artist 1570-75

Elizabeth I receiving the Dutch ambassadors in the Presence Chamber Water-color drawing by unknown artist 1570-75 Staatliche Kunst-sammlungen, Kassel, Germany Cropped from a larger painting (version above)
Queen Elizabeth I. unknown artist 1576-77 Present whereabouts unknown
Queen Elizabeth I. unknown artist 1577-78 Penshurst Place, Kent
Elizabeth playing the lute Nicholas Hilliard 1576
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth on wood unknown artist 1580
“Welbeck”, “Wanstead” or “Peace” Portrait Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder 1580-5 private collection Elizabeth is wearing the same headdress, collar and girdle from the ‘Ermine Portrait‘. Both gowns are ‘Polish style’ with froggings.
Also note the likeliness of the pose in this and the ‘Siena Sieve‘ painting.
Manuscript portrait of Elizabeth I, from the Coram Rege Roll unknown 1581 Note that it seems as if Elizabeth is wearing no farthingale with her skirt (knees visible through skirt)
Siena Sieve portrait’ Quentin Metsys the Younger or Cornelius Ketel c1580-83 Pinacotea di Siena The brooch in this portrait once belonged to Mary Tudor; it was probably her favorite jewel as she was painted several times wearing it. See my study for that pendant/brooch here.
Elizabeth in old age Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
Queen Elizabeth I. Nicholas Hilliard 1583-84 Private collection
QEI – Illumination on the Mildmary Charter Nicholas Hilliard 1584 Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Queen Elizabeth I. unknown artist 1570-85 Elizabethan Club of Yale University The sleeves date from around 1570 and the hairstyle from around 1585.
She fingers a jewel which appears in a later portrait as a fan handle (see “False Rainbow Portrait“, c. 1603)
? ? ? 1585-90 (see comment) Currently I know nothing about this painting, except that it seems to show Elizabeth in her beautiful parliament robes. The appearance is likely to the ‘Theological and Cardinal Virtues’ painting from 1598, but the big neck ruff indicates that it was painted c. 1585-90.
The collar of the state seems to be the same as in the ‘Ermine‘ and ‘Peace‘ portraits.
Elizabeth with feather fan unknown artist 1585 Royal Collection
Queen Elizabeth I. attributed to John Bettes the Younger 1585 Lord Astor, Hever Castle, Kent
Elizabeth with fan Panel painting attributed to John Bettes the Younger 1585-86 National Portrait Gallery, London
Elizabeth with sieve Panel painting attributed to John Bettes the Younger 1585 Madresfield Court Collection
Ermine Portrait Nicholas Hilliard or William Segar 1585 Hatfield House Elizabeth is wearing the same headdress, collar and girdle from the ‘Peace’ Portrait.
Queen Elizabeth I. unknown artist 1585 Tatton Park, Cheshire
Queen Elizabeth I.; Illumination on Ashbourne Charter Nicholas Hilliard 15. July 1585 Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Ashbourne, Derbyshire
The ‘Motthe’ Poem Frontispiece Georges de la Motthe 1586 Bodleian Library, Oxford
Queen Elizabeth I. attributed to John Bettes the Younger 1586-87 National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Queen Elizabeth I. attributed to William Segar 1588
Queen Elizabeth I.,
Woodcut from “The Light of Britaine”
Henry Lyte 1588 private collection
“Armada” Jewel 2 Nicholas Hilliard 1588 Victoria & Albert Museum
Hilliard Miniature Nicholas Hilliard 1588 The Mauritshuis, The Hague
Sketch of QEI, possibly for the ‘Armada’ Portrait Nicholas Hilliard 1588 Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Armada” Portrait unknown artist 1588-89 W. Tyrwhitt-Drake, Bereleigh, Petersfield Several versions were painted of the Armada portrait. They look much alike, but on close inspection, they are different.

Note:
If you would like to re-create Queen Elizabeth’s ‘Armada’ gown from the paintings, there’s a reprint of the sleeves- and forepart fabric with the jewels available here on Spoonflower.
Note that while reprints of this design aren’t exactly historically accurate (after all, the original was decorated with cording embroidery and real jewels and pearls!); but they’re a good possibility to ‘get the look’ without having to invest too much work (aka the ‘Vandyke’ look).

Armada” Portrait unknown artist 1588 National Portrait Gallery
Armada” Portrait attributed to George Gower 1588-89 Woburn Abbey
Queen Elizabeth I. attributed to John Bettes the Younger 1588-89 The Viscount Daventry, Arbury Hall, Nuneaton, Warwickshire
“Armada” Jewel Nicholas Hilliard 1588 Victoria & Albert Museum
Queen Elizabeth I. unknown artist 1590 Jesus College, Oxford Note the incredible blackwork on the gown and – on the supportasse of the neck ruff!
Queen Elizabeth I. panel painting by an unknown artist 1590 Pollok House, Glasgow
Unfinished Miniature Nicholas Hilliard 1590 Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Elizabeth I unknown artist 1590-92 Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio Note the considerable damage of the painting, especially in her face.
Elizabeth I. unknown Artist from the English School 1592 Hardwick Hall This portrait was painted for Bess of Hardwick, who made the incredible forepart for Queen Elizabeth. It’s not quite clear if that forepart was embroidered or stained (=painted); I’d say it was stained, because if you look at the reflections on the satin, they’re the same in stained and unstained areas.
Do I need to say that I like this gown *very* much???
Ditchley” Portrait Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger c1592 National Portrait Gallery Largest surviving full-length portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, despite having 7.5 cm (~3 inch) cut from each side.
Engraving from a book frontispiece Attributed to Crispin van de Passe I. 1596 (see comment) I’m not so sure if the date given for this picture is correct, as Elizabeth is wearing the old A-shaped farthingale instead of the drum-shaped farthingale, which was in fashion by then.
From sleeves and collar, I would date this picture to around 1585.
Elizabeth I with the cardinal and theological virtues Panel painting by an unknown artist 1598 Corporation of Dover It is one incredible wonder that Elizabeth as a redhead managed to wear red gowns that looked beautiful on her.
It’s yet a greater wonder that the painters even got both reds – of her hair and gown – also matching each other!
Painting is much likely to this one.
Miniature of Elizabeth I. Nicholas Hilliard 1595-1600
Miniature of Elizabeth I. Nicholas Hilliard 1595-1600 The two miniatures of Queen Elizabeth almost seem to show the same gown and jewelry, but on close inspection there are slight differences (like the additional necklace with pendant in the second image; and the sleeves in both).
Miniature of Elizabeth I. Nicholas Hilliard 1595-1600 Victoria & Albert Museum
Miniature of Elizabeth I. Nicholas Hilliard 1590-1600
Rainbow” Portrait Isaac Oliver or Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger c1603 Hatfield House Elizabeth was in her late sixties when this portrait was made, but for iconographic purposes she is portrayed as young and beautiful – she is ageless.
See more notes on this portrait here.
“False” Rainbow portrait unknown artist 1603 present whereabouts unknown
(known only from a photograph)
The picture shows Elizabeth in the same pose and with some of the jewels from the “Rainbow” portrait; it seems like an unskillful copy of the Rainbow portrait, but is obviously a well observed and painted portrait.

 

Related portraits

Some of the portraits shown above are obviouly related to each other; it is almost safe to assume that some were simply copies of others.
Here’s a list of those ‘related portraits’, descriptions are given above:

The “Feather fan” portraits:

‘Pelican’, ‘Phoenix’ and likely:

The miniatures:

The two ‘rainbow’ portraits:

Likely to ‘Siena Sieve’:

Paintings in which the faces seem to be the same:

Additional notes about the “Rainbow” portrait:

Oliver was a pupil of Nicholas Hilliard and the brother-in-law of Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger.
Some historians have argued that Gheeraerts painted this portrait, but most favor Oliver.
In my humble opinion, this is the most beautiful portrait of Elizabeth that still exists.

There are quite some historians who argue that this outfit shown in the ‘Rainbow’ portrait might never have existed, but I think it did, because it is so well painted and observed that it seems unlikely that such a portrait simply emerged from the imagination of the painter.

There are also some interesting hints about the hidden meaning of the portrait:

And if nothing that is worn in the ‘Rainbow’ portrait ever existed – how is it then possible that this Lady here:

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