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Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VII and Anne Boleyn and held the position as Queen of England and Ireland from 1558-1601, where she oversaw some of England’s key moments in history, such as the Spanish Armada, which put England on the world stage as a superpower.
Elizabeth I is often presented alongside many different emblems and items, such as the Tudor rose. The rose holds great political significance, demonstrating the union of England’s great families. Elizabeth I herself often referred to as the ‘virgin queen’ as she never married or had children, made the rose particularly relevant as it is often associated with the Virgin Mary. The flower juxtaposed alongside the crown signifies Elizabeth I’s authority over both secular and worldly matters.
Pelican Portrait Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard (c.1575)

This idea is also echoed in the portrayal of Elizabeth, through Nicholas Hilliard’s painting  known as the ‘pelican’ portrait (above),  in the form of a jewel at her chest. The pelican is known to pluck its own breast with its beak in order to feed its young- which fed into the idea of Elizabeth as a mother figure to her realm; even willing to sacrifice herself.
Pelican Detail Elizabeth I

Detail of Pelican from Portrait of Elizabeth I

Elizabeth is often seen wearing elaborate armlets, headpieces and jewellery to display her great wealth and authority, and even preferred to be painted outside without shadow. In addition, she was often portrayed as her younger form, to emphasize her beauty and youth, helping to consolidate her power.
Interestingly, Elizabeth I continued to portray a younger, healthier image throughout her reign – despite contracting smallpox in 1562, resulting in her wearing white lead makeup to cover scars. However, the lead poisoning resulted in a loss of hair and rotting of her teeth, to the extent where she refused to keep mirrors in her room.
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