Oil on panel, 64.8cm by 52cm. Inscribed with the age of the sitter, 53, and dated 1585.
The painting appears in the 1763 Burghley Inventory: ‘The Japan Closet…William Cecil Ld Burghley by Zucchero.’
Federico Zuccari (1539-1609), was born near Urbino.
He moved to Rome in 1550 where he worked under his elder brother Taddeo and was later involved in several fresco projects.
He was in England from 1574, when, amongst others, he painted portraits of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Sir Francis Walsingham and Lord High Admiral Howard, all close associates of Lord Burghley.
It is therefore highly likely that the 1763 Inventory is correct in its attribution.
If, however, the portrait was indeed painted in 1585, Lord Burghley would have been 65, and not 53, as inscribed.