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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:
|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”
|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,
|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.
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.
|“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.|
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:
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: