Today is the birthday of Queen Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 - 24 March 1603). She is my favorite historical figure and one of the most interesting people I’ve ever read about. I’ve been fascinated/obsessed with her ever since I was eight.
I - The young Princess Elizabeth. This is a detail of a family portrait painted around 1545, by an unknown artist. It shows Henry VIII in the middle, with his only surviving son, the future Edward VI. Shown with them is Edward’s mother, Jane Seymour, who had died when Edward was a baby. Elizabeth stands to one side of the painting, beyond a column. Her elder sister Mary stands on the other side. They are shown this way because, though they were in the line of succession, their father maintained they were illegitimate.
II - Princess Elizabeth, c. 1546, by William Scrots. It was a gift from Elizabeth to her younger brother Edward. In the accompanying letter she wrote, “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.”
III - Elizabeth I at her coronation. This portrait was painted c. 1600, by an unknown artist, to replace a lost original done at the actual time of Elizabeth’s coronation in 1559.
IV - A colored sketch of Elizabeth I, attributed to Federico Zuccaro, done sometime in the 1570s.
V - Elizabeth’s signature, from a 1549 letter to the Lord Protector Edward Seymour.
VI - The Darnley Portrait, painted in 1575 by an unknown artist.
VII - The Sieve Portrait, painted c. 1583 by Quentin Metsys the Younger. It is also known as the Siena Portrait, because it was found rolled up in the attic of the Palazzo Reale in Siena in 1895.
VIII - The Armada Portrait, 1588, by an unknown artist, to commemorate England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada.
IX - The Ditchley Portrait, painted c. 1592 by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (whose father also painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth). It is the largest surviving full-length portrait of the queen.