Elizabethan portraiture is a fascinating subject, not least because most of the sitters look like nobody on god's earth. Also, they are quite frequently identified as a) Queen Elizabeth or b) Mary Queen of Scots even when they are male. So arguing the identity of an Elizabethan portrait on the grounds it looks a bit like another portrait is not really the act of a rational being. Still...
« previous | next »
A Young Boy Holding a Book, with Flowers (Image copyright to The Weiss Gallery)
c. 2010 this portrait was on display at the Weiss Gallery. It has the date '1576' behind the sitter's left shoulder. The Weiss gallery suggests the picture may have been made for the accession of a new heir. Well, Essex inherited the earldom in 1576, aged 11. The boy here is wearing white and orange. These were the heraldic colours of the Earl of Essex. This picture is attributed to an artist known as 'the Master of the Countess of Warwick', characteristics of whose style include 'soft treatment of the hair, the thinly outlined lips that meet in a straight horizontal line, and the minute attention given to the details of costume and jewellery'. (Tate Collection). The boy has a portrait miniature case hung round his neck (containing his dead father's image?), and a ring. He holds a posy of flowers, possibly symbolizing his freshness and innocence. And he is definitely a ginger.