Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bess to Impress: The Clopton Portrait

The Clopton Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. In the private collection of Mr. Peter James Hall. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

The Clopton Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I dates from early in her reign, circa 1560-65, before she reinvented herself as Gloriana. The portrait, by an unknown artist, is in the private collection of Mr. Peter James Hall, though there are other existent versions.

Another Clopton-esque portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by an unknown artist, circa 1560. Image public domain through Creative Commons licensing, NPG, London.

Queen Elizabeth I has purposefully donned the colors associated with a modest Protestant intellectual, black and white, in her portrait. In the system of heraldry, the tincture of black represents constancy, while the tincture of white/silver represents sincerity. Queen Elizabeth draws attention to her favorite feature, her hands, by wearing multiple rings and holding a book in her right hand and gloves in her left; Elizabeth had a fondness for fine gloves, several pairs of which have gone on display in recent years. 

An exquisite ceremonial pair of Queen Elizabeth I's gloves.

This portrait bares similarities to the portrait of Elizabeth as Princess from around 1546; In addition to being depicted with books again, Elizabeth's haunting gaze is very similar. The Clopton Portrait, painted before Queen Elizabeth's portraits included copious amounts of symbolism and her image became regulated, gives us a very good idea of what the young Queen of England actually looked like.

Other portraits of Queen Elizabeth I from this time include the following: 

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by an unknown artist, circa 1565. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

Recently discovered in 1994 when it went up for auction, this portrait of Queen Elizabeth was painted around 1565 by an unknown artist of the British School. The portrait, sold through Christie's, is now in a private collection. Interestingly, the entire portrait, including the frame, is painted on a single piece of wood (Cody). Once again, Queen Elizabeth I is shown holding a book; below her  hand on the frame is a verse that she purportedly spoke to a Marian priest when questioned about transubstantiation,

'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.

A miniature portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, circa 1560-65. Attributed to Levina Teerlinc. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

A miniature of Queen Elizabeth I, circa 1560-65. Attributed to Levina Teerlinc. Part of The Royal Collection.

Another miniature portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, circa 1560-65. Attributed to Levina Teerlinc. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

A miniature of Queen Elizabeth I, circa 1560-65. Attributed to Levina Teerlinc. Part of The Royal Collection.

Sources:

Sutherland-Harris, Ann, and Linda Nochlin. Women Artists: 1550-1950. Los Angeles: Museum
     
     Associates of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1976. Print. 

 "Portraits of Queen Elizabeth." Marilee Cody. Web. 4 April. 2013.

3 comments:

  1. Love this Bess. Thanks for all the info on the portraits. Those gloves! I've always read Elizabeth was very proud of her long tapered fingers. The picture of the gloves shows she did indeed have long fingers.

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  3. Why is the Clopton portrait designated so? Why Clopton?

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