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Daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I succeeded her Catholic sister Mary I to reign for 44 years, during which time England attained a powerful position on the world’s stage.
This mass-produced image is thought to be based on a three-quarter length portrait of the Queen by Antwerp painter Quentin Massys the Younger (c.1543-1589), now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena. Known as the ‘Sieve’ portrait, Massys’ painting shows the Queen holding a sieve: a symbol of chastity. The Sieve portrait may in turn be related to a full-length portrait of the Queen painted by Roman Mannerist painter Federico Zuccaro (c.1541-1609) on his visit to England in 1575, for which a study drawing survives in the British Museum.
This work is probably the product of a relatively humble workshop. It was made using a standard face pattern, derived from the Sieve portrait, which was transferred to the prepared panel by means of a cut-out stencil.
Collection of Sir George Wombwell; by descent to Captain V. M. Wombell of Newburgh Priory, Coxwold, Yorkshire; by whom sold through Christie’s, London, on 9 July 1948 (Lot 22), as ‘attributed to Gheeraedts’; from which sale purchased by ‘Hawes’ on behalf of the Office of Works
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