Monday, January 5, 2015

Bess to Impress: Elizabeth I (1565-70) by Hans Eworth

I recently visited the Portland Art Museum to view their temporary exhibit Treasures of British Art 1400-2000, from the Berger Collection at the Denver Art Museum. The exhibit featured paintings of Tudor monarchs and their courtiers and other subjects, including, of course, Queen Elizabeth I. In fact, her visage was clearly considered the one most likely to garner attention for the exhibit, as it advertised it and greeted patrons at the front entrance of the museum.

At the Portland Art Museum, being greeted by Queen Elizabeth I at the front door! Photo by L.Jensen.

It is one of my personal goals in life to see every portrait of Queen Elizabeth I that was painted during her lifetime, meaning the ones that are in public collections, or that are regularly put out on loan from private collections into exhibits. I call it my "Queen Elizabeth I Portrait Bucket List"! At the Portland Art Museum, I was able to check yet another one off my list: A portrait of Queen Elizabeth I from early in her reign, painted between 1565-1570 by Belgian-born Elizabethan court artist Hans Eworth (circa 1520-after 1578). The portrait was painted shortly after the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, Head of the Church of England, was excommunicated by the pope in Rome from the Catholic faith (I'll just let the futility of the pope's gesture sink in for a second). 

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I of England. By Hans Eworth, circa 1565-70. Photography by A.Jensen permitted by the Portland Art Museum. In the Berger Collection at the Denver Art Museum.

The pose of Queen Elizabeth I's face in this Eworth painting has been copied in a series of other similar portraits from around the same time; typically, portraits approved by the queen were copied by other artists for the mass market, as images of the queen were in high demand from her loyal subjects.

The Eworth painting is oil on panel. Paintings done on wood were often subject to rot and water damage over time, and the original image may have been cut down. Likely, Queen Elizabeth was originally depicted with her hands shown, like the following portraits of her father and her brother, also on display in the exhibit.

Portrait of Henry VIII, circa 1513. Photography by A.Jensen permitted by the Portland Art Museum. In the Berger Collection at the Denver Art Museum.
Portrait of Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VI). By Hans Holbein the Younger and his studio, circa 1538. Photography by A.Jensen permitted by the Portland Art Museum. In the Berger Collection at the Denver Art Museum.

 The young Queen Elizabeth I, as painted by Eworth, is not dressed in the elaborate, overwhelming costumes of the 1580's and 90's, when she fashioned herself as "Gloriana". Rather, she wears more understated cothing and accesories. To view other Queen Elizabeth portraits from around the same time period, click on the links below:

Bess to Impress: The Clopton Portrait 

Bess to Impress: The Hampden Portrait


3 comments:

  1. Please tell me if this is the Portland museum in Maine or Oregon. I have tried to look up this exhibit and been unsuccessful.

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  2. Hi Susie,

    This exhibit was on display at the Portland Art Museum in Maine. Unfortunately, the exhibit closed the day after I was there. I am unsure where it is traveling to next. Hopefully the internet will reveal its next location! I work at a museum, and typically if you call the museum, they can tell you where the exhibit is heading to next.

    I do hope you can see it!

    Best,

    Ashlie

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