Presentation on theme: "What Did Queen Elizabeth Look Like? These days we know what members of the royal family look like from the TV and newspapers. In the 16th century, there."— Presentation transcript:
What Did Queen Elizabeth Look Like? These days we know what members of the royal family look like from the TV and newspapers. In the 16th century, there were no photographs, television or films. In those days, there were two ways in which one could see the king or queen. The queen could go on a journey or progress, which would mean people would gather in the streets to watch her go by. The second way is through portraits, which were painted to show the king or queen looking as good as possible.
There were many portraits of Elizabeth I. Most of them showed the queen at her best. The painters knew they would become rich and famous if they made her look good. If she disliked a portrait, she would have it destroyed and the artist would find it hard to get work in future. Because of this, portraits of her did not always show her as she really was.
This extract comes from an order issued by Lord Cecil, adviser to Elizabeth I, in about 1570: "Many painters have done portraits of the Queen but none has sufficiently shown her looks and charms. Therefore Her Majesty commands all manner of persons to stop doing portraits of her until a clever painter has finished one which all other painters can copy. Her Majesty in the meantime forbids the showing of any portraits which are ugly, until they are improved." What does this extract tell us about the portraits of Elizabeth I that are left? Can we tell from these what she really looked like? Why must we be careful with the evidence of portraits?
In most of her state portraits, Elizabeth is lost beneath increasingly opulent gowns and surrounded by symbolic imagery, in contrast to the simpler images in her earlier portraits.
The Armada Portrait Symbolism is very important in this portrait which was painted after the English defeat of the Spanish armada in 1588 Click on the picture for more information Image used with the kind permission of the National Portrait Gallery
Next to her right arm is an imperial crown and her right hand rests upon a globe - specifically, her fingers rest upon the Americas. The crown and globe tell us that Elizabeth is mistress of land and sea.
In the background of the painting are scenes from the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. It was a great triumph for the English
Pearls decorate the Queen’s head and gown and are a symbol of purity. She is also wearing a pearl necklace given to her by the earl of Leicester; it was Robert Dudley's last gift to the queen.
How does this portrait help to say that Elizabeth was a great Queen?
Click on the picture to see what Elizabeth really looked like.
Her mouth was little more than a slit and her lips were compressed. A vermilion ‘fucus’ made from red crystalline mercuric sulphide was used to redden the lips. It ate cruelly into the flesh and cracked the lips. Most of her teeth were black and rotten. They were cleaned with a frayed end of a stick dipped in honey, salt, pumice and brick dust. This removed the stains and in time most of the teeth as well.
Belladonna made from deadly night shade was dropped into her eyes with a quill pen. It dilated her pupils, made her eyes large and shining, but fogged her vision. Her eyes were too close together an sunken in hollow sockets and her nose was long and beak like.
Elizabeth was completely bald and she wore a red wig mounted on a wire frame and curled with hot irons. The wig was scented and decorated with pearls and was crawling with lice.
Her most beautiful features were her long and elegant hands which all painters were instructed to include in their portraits
Her face was washed in the evening with Asses’ milk and rose water. She only had a bath 3 times a year and the smell of B.O. was drowned with a lavish use of perfume. Small pox scars were treated with sublimate of mercury, which burnt off the top layer of her skin
If we wanted to find out exactly what Elizabeth looked like could we use her portraits to help us? Are these reliable or unreliable sources? If they are not reliable are they still useful?