Images of Queen Elizabeth I and her courtiers demonstrate the power of the portrait to inform public opinion in this new exhibition at Waddesdon.
Two panel works by 16th-century painter Nicholas Hilliard are flanked by loans from the Royal Collection and National Gallery in a display that considers how the Queen and her suitor, her ambassador and noblemen fashioned their public image.
Hilliard’s pieces are interesting not only for their subject, but also for the fact that they have been confirmed as painted on French oak – where English painters normally used Baltic oak. While Hilliard is perhaps most famous for his miniatures painted in watercolour on vellum, these panels have been definitively attributed to him, and visitors can learn about the scientific and scholarly work that led to this important discovery.
There’s also the opportunity to assess how two very different monarchs have been portrayed in different circumstances, as the display is accompanied by two depictions of Elizabeth II: one by Lucian Freud, the other by Ann Carrington.