The Ditchley Portrait (c. 1592)

By Marcus Gheerraerts, representing Elizabeth I

Note the monarch's feet stand on a map of England, and at her back storm clouds loom.  A sonnet is superscribed upon the clouds at her waist.  The National Portrait Gallery in London, where the painting now hangs, believes the painting  commemorates the return to favor of Sir Henry Lee (1533-1611), who had angered Elizabeth by taking as his mistress and openly living with one Anne Vavasour.  Elizabeth's courtiers were expected to profess love of her first, and mistresses only as dim reflections of her glory.

        To see Amy Thompson McCandless's History 499 web page on Elizabethan iconography at the College of Charleston, click here.  In Elizabeth's day, this gown would have been worth a small town.