Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Portraying Queen Elizabeth I

The always insightful  Mefieval manuscripts blog from the British Library has an interesting post in connection with the BL’s current major exhibition Elizabeth and Mary: Roysl Cousins, Rival Queens. The post concentrates on the portraits in the display of Queen Elizabeth I and her attitude to sitting for her portrait, particularly in her youth and early years as Queen.

The well illustrated post can be seen at Portraits of Elizabeth I

Some years ago I recall the announcement of the discovery of an early 1560s portrait of Queen Elizabeth which showed her dressed in dark plain clothing and holding what appeared to be a prayer book. A very different presentation from the familiar bejewelled and lavishly dressed Queen of popular perception. This austere, almost puritanical, image was discussed by David Starkey, who saw it as very much a piece of conscious image-making in the wake of the Church settlement of 1559. Unfortunately I cannot find the link to the specific article.

Look a little further on the Internet I found two other reports about discoveries of early portraits of the Queen.

The first from Royal Central from 2018 covers a painting that may be as early as 1559. It is very crude by comparison with later ones but interesting as a very early depiction. The article and link can be found at Newly discovered early portrait of Elizabeth I to be displayed

The second is a 2019 Guardian account of the discovery, restoration and identification of a very fine portrait dated to 1562. This may have been painted to send abroad as part of the negotiations for one or other possible marriage. The article can be viewed at Long-lost overpainted portrait reveals young Queen Elizabeth I

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