Elizabethan portraits

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

One thing that has always inspired me are Elizabethan portraits and especially those of Elizabeth I. I remember studiously copying the painting above for ages when I was little - shame I don't still have my attempted copy.

Not only is Elizabeth I an undeniably fascinating figure, but I also love the decorative, sumptuous fabrics, the incredible way the painters painted lace ruffs and fur stoles and the copious quantities of jewels and pearls. This painting is about the Battle of Armada.

I also love that they are rich in symbolism. Above is the Tudor rose which combines the rose of the House of Lancaster and the rose of the House of York, symbolising the unity of the realm. Pearls (and also moons) show Elizabeth's virginity and purity.

Other symbols include gloves which represent her elegance, pelicans symbolising motherly love of her subjects, the phoenix which is a symbol of her longevity, and ermine (as seen above)which represents both her royalty and purity.

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