While Dudley never thrived in his aim of obtaining Elizabeth’s hand also in marital relationship, he was thought about to be the queen’s just significant English suitor and frequently offered portraiture as a way through which to further his reason. The second portrait of Dudley watched here (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447), not just gives a good sense of Dudley’s standing and also sophistication, it likewise lends itself to being hung alongside one more portrait as a pair, maybe a ‘pendant’ portrait of the queen. It has actually been suggested that wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447 deserve to be associated via a visit that Elizabeth made to Dudley’s home at Kenliworth Castle in 1575, and also was component of a collection of pictures commissioned specifically for the event.

You are watching: Earl of lester

Considered side by side, these two portraits can be watched to recurrent the two significant motivations for the manufacturing of Dudley’s portrait. In addition, brand-new technical analysis has done much to even more our expertise of exactly how these portraits were made, wright here they initially came from and also what they looked prefer once they were first painted.

When were these portraits painted?

What evidence is tbelow for underdrawing in the portraits?

What approaches were offered in the paint of these portraits?

When were these portraits painted?

Dendrochronology (tree-ring dating), has presented that the timber for the panel provided in the portrait of Leicester in a red suit (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447) was felled at some point between 1568 and 1579, which supports the principle that this paint was created around the time that Elizabeth I pertained to visit Robert Dudley at Kenliworth Castle in Warwickshire. The wood is Eastern Baltic oak and also renders up a three-board panel, which shows up to have been considerably trimmed along the lower edge. It is therefore possible that this paint was initially a full-length portrait. It might in truth be the very same picture from the Earl of Leicester’s own repertoire which was defined as of ‘entirety proportion,... in a sute of russet satten and velvet welted’, which could have actually been reduced dvery own at a later date to its existing size.

The portrait of Leicester in a white and also gold doublet (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 227) is likewise consisted of of a three-board panel made from Eastern Baltic oak. The easily accessible tree-ring data noted a conjectural intake date of 1564-1596 for the panel, which supports a date of c.1575-80 for the portrait.

What evidence is there for underillustration in the portraits?


Infrared reflectogram mosaic of the challenge (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447). Image: Tager Stonor Richardson


Detail showing locations in the confront with exposed the underdrawing (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447).


Infrared reflectogram mosaic of the face (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 247). Image: Tager Stonor Richardkid.

The complace of the portrait of Leicester in red (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447) was first lhelp out through the usage of underdrawing, used utilizing a tracing and more than likely obtained from a pre-ready drawing. Once transferred, the tracing might be reinrequired or emerged by the artist working freehand in a wet tool. This had the advantage of permitting the artist to construct up locations of shadow and also information. wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447 displays the use of both traced and freehand also underillustration, which can be watched have the right to be checked out a lot of clearly by making use of infrared reflectography, and also in locations of the confront wbelow the thinning of the flesh paint has actually even more exposed lower layers of the painting’s surconfront.

In contrast, the portrait of Leicester in white and also gold (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 247) has little proof of underdrawing, despite the reality that the painting is clearly created from a pre-establiburned pattern. Infrared reflectography identified one faint, curved line in the eye on the left, which suggests that the major functions were drawn, and then extremely closely followed through the paint above, for this reason obscuring the initial preparatory drawing

Due to the fact that underillustration is regularly linked with the transfer processes supplied in the production of copies in this duration, it can seem strange that tbelow is abundant evidence of underdrawing in wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447 compared to the restricted visible underdrawing in wgc2010.wgc2010.org 247. However, this seems to be specifically because the artist responsible for paint wgc2010.wgc2010.org 247 was so dependant on the pattern for creating the complace. Conversely, while the substantial underillustration in wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447 could at initially imply that the composition was replicated from a pre-existing pattern, the freehand underdrawing which was undertaken after the initial tracing was made (as seen in areas of the hands and Dudley’s ruff) relates that the artist had actually both the confidence and also the capacity to sophisticated upon the preliminary tracing.

What approaches were supplied in the painting of these portraits?

A comparichild of the depiction of costume by these 2 artists throws the distinctions in their technique into sharp relief. In the portrait of Leicester wearing a fancy yellow and white doublet covered in gold butloads (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 247), evaluation of the surconfront of the painting has presented that the artist was remarkably economical in his application of paint, and also offered basic approaches in order to create shadow and also model the features of the sitter. For instance, in order to produce shadow on the hand on the right-hand also side of the doublet, the dark first layer for the sleeves and also hair was extfinished into the reserve left for the doublet, prior to the grey doublet paint was applied. The grey paint was then painted over this dark layer.

Shadow developed via the extension of paint right into the reserve of the doublet

A similar method was provided for the feathers on the hat wright here a thin grey layer was painted onto the reserve and a darker layer applied about the edge of the reserve to create the shadow part of the feather. The light details were then applied over the grey edge to give depth and modeling.

What is many inexplicable about the paint of the costume in this portrait of Leicester (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 247) is the use of gilding, a technique that was coming to be significantly unfashionable in the time of the period. The gilding on the left of the doublet was used over a dark mordant (the fixant) which contained a high propercentage of black. Tright here is no gilding on the gold lines on the best side of the doublet, which are painted ssuggest via yellow paint over the grey paint, via lead-tin yellow supplied for highlights. However, surchallenge examination suggests that these locations were originally carefully gilded, utilizing just the dark yellow paint as a mordant. The gold clearly did not stick well in these areas, and lead-tin yellow was then provided over to create the highlight.



Detail of hose showing dark brown/black mordant beneath gilding

When compared to these quite basic approaches, those employed in the painting of the costume of the portrait of Leicester in red (wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447) appear even more innovative. Throughout, the paint dealing with and also technique was of a really high quality, via exceptionally skilful and also subtle layers of opaque and transparent glazes. The sleeves, doublet and also hose were started via a layer of white or pale pink paint over the priming layer, which was painted through a large stiff brush, enabling individual brush marks to reprimary visible on the surface to include texture. A thin translucent layer of red lake was used over the costume which the artist differed in tone so he could specify areas of highlight and also shadow. Anvarious other advanced technique was provided to define the texture of well-off velvet in the hose, wright here paint was applied (most likely with a brush) and then blotted off using either a fabric or fingers in order to remove some of the colour from the surconfront. Unlike the gilding which was offered in wgc2010.wgc2010.org 247, the gold stitching in this portrait was explained with the use of lead-tin yellow, which in some places was linked through red bring about offer a warmer and also more golden tone.


As it deserve to be watched, although the 2 portraits depict the exact same sitter, they are different in a variety of considerable means. The most necessary distinction is that of quality, for while wgc2010.wgc2010.org 447 is a fine portrait which screens a range of innovative painterly methods, wgc2010.wgc2010.org 247 is not almost as achieved, and also is painted in an easy and economical fashion. With Each Other, they assist show the idea that there was a wide selection in the quality of portraiture in this period, and that the demand for Leicester’s picture ensured that there were a number of establimelted fads in circulation among artists.


Develop your art skills

Find Out our BP Next Generation brief films made by artists. Follow action by step guides in drawing and also paint techniques.

Improve your skills


Hold Still photography workshop

Reflect on your very own experiences of lockdown via this easy-to-carry out from residence, photographic exercise.

See more: Why Does My Dental Crown Fell Out And Smells, My Crown Fell Out! What Do I Do Now

Watch the video


Draw Like a Renaissance Master

Revisit The Enrespond to exhibition and learn about Renaissance and also Baroque illustration methods and materials.

Improve your technique

Join in

FacebookLike us on FacebookTwitterFollow us on TwitterInstagramFollow us on InstagramYouTubeSubscribe to our YouTube channel


National Portrait Gallery, St Martin"s Place, London, WC2H0HESwitchboard: +44 (0) 20 7306 0055

The Gallery is closed until Spring 2023

Find out even more around the Motivating People project