Elizabeth I Portraits

As it’s the anniversary of our favourite monarch, the iconic Queen Elizabeth I, I thought I’d share some Elizabeth I portraits. This is not an exhaustive collection, there are many portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and lots of different versions of portraits too. I hope you enjoy looking through these.

Click on each image to enlarge it.

My very favourite portrait is the Rainbow Portrait, which I’ve been lucky enough to see ‘in the flesh’ at Hatfield House. It is full of symbolism:

  • The rainbow – The tube Elizabeth I is holding is actually a rainbow, and it is a symbol of peace. The words on the portrait, “non sine sole iris”, mean “no rainbow without the sun”, or, as David Dimbleby explained in the TV porgramme “The Seven Ages of Britain”, we can read them as “no peace without Elizabeth”.
  • The pearls – The pearls symbolise purity and Elizabeth’s virginity.
  • The snake – There is a snake on Elizabeth’s sleeve and it is depicted with its head above a heart shaped pendant. The snake symbolises wisdom and so this is thought to mean that Elizabeth’s heart is controlled by wisdom.
  • Ears and eyes – Elizabeth’s golden robe is decorated with ears and eyes, which could mean that Elizabeth, as queen, has eyes and ears everywhere, that she is a woman with far-reaching power.

Here is my own photo of it, taken at Hatfield:

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