A Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561-1636).

Oil on panel, in a carved wood frame surmounted by a crown, 57.8cm by 45cm.
Dated 1608, which is obscured by the frame.

The large red stone in the Queen’s hair ornament is the Black Prince’s ruby, one of the oldest of the Crown Jewels and currently set at the front of the Imperial State Crown.

The painting is one of a group of portraits of the Queen painted after 1592 which adhere to the ‘Ditchley Pattern.’

This refers to a portrait painted by Gheeraerts for Sir Henry Lee, the Queen’s champion and Pageant Master, perhaps for a great entertainment staged for her at his Ditchley estate in Oxfordshire in 1592.

In it the Queen stands on the globe, as a symbol of her extensive regal authority, whilst her presence appears to symbolise light banishing darkness from the sky in the background.

The 1738 Burghley Inventory records the painting, although mis-attributes it: ‘The Library….At the upper End of the Room, is an Original of Queen Elizabeth, by Hans Holbein.’


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