- Museum number
Portrait of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; whole-length, to front, wearing armour, his left hand on his hip and right hand resting on a table at left
Black and red chalk
- Production date
Height: 324 millimetres
Width: 219 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Companion to Gg,1.417. The drawing is connected with a WL portrait formerly in the collection of the Dukes of Sutherland, probably destroyed during the last war.
Lit: J.A. Gere and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, Artists working in Rome', London, 1983, no. 301; C. Acidini Luchinat, 'Taddeo e Federico Zuccari, fratelli pittori del cinquecento', Milan, 1998, II, pp. 59-60, fig. 44
Gere & Pouncey 1983
The little that is known of the circumstances of Federico Zuccarö's visit to England suggests that he came at the invitation of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the Queen's favourite, in order to paint his portrait and hers. He probably arrived soon after 15 March 1575 (date of letter from Chiappino Vitelli, marchese di Cetona, in Antwerp, recommending him, probably to Leicester: see R. Strong, 'Warburg Journal', xxii (1959), pp. 359f.) and had returned to Antwerp in August of the same year (see letters from Vitelli recommending him to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, publ. A.M. Crinò, 'Rivista d'arte', xxxiv (1959), p. 157).* According to Raffaello Borghini (p. 469), Federico "fece il ritratto della Reina Lisabetta, e quello di Milord Lostre suo favoritissimo, ambedue interi, e grandi come il naturale". This very circumstantial statement deserves to be taken seriously, for Borghini, whose book appeared less than ten years after Federico's visit to England, was a Florentine and thus likely to have been in personal contact with him during the period immediately after his return, when he was working in Florence. Strong ('The English Icon', p. 163) seems to take it for granted that Federico painted a full-length portrait of the Queen on the basis of Gg,1.417; but if an artist of that standing had painted such a portrait it is surely remarkable that no other contemporary or later reference should have come to light. None of the known paintings of the Queen is even remotely based on Gg,1.417. One in the Siena gallery (R. Strong, 'Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I', 1963, no. 45, pl. x) has sometimes been identified with the Zuccaro portrait, but clearly has no connection with him. Gg,1.418 on the other hand, as Waterhouse pointed out, is connected with a full-length portrait formerly in the collection of the Dukes of Sutherland and believed to have been destroyed by enemy action during the last war (repr. Strong, 'The English Icon', p. 165). Lord Leicester is posed as in the drawing, but in different armour, his hands are bare, and he is wearing hose with the Garter on his l. leg instead of the leg-armour suggested in the drawing. Mr Claude Blair has pointed out that the armour in the painting, which is Leicester's decorated suit now in the Tower Armouries, is painted over another suit with longer thigh-pieces ('tassets') which is one, now lost, recorded in the Greenwich Armourers' Album (Victoria and Albert Museum) as having been made for him. The armour in Gg,1.418 is this earlier suit, and the pieces on the ground in both drawing and painting (though not corresponding exactly with one another) are the 'pieces of exchange' for the tilt that went with it.
Since only Lord Leicester himself would have gone to the trouble of having his second and more elaborate armour substituted for the other, it may be presumed that the portrait belonged to him. But whether this particular painting was the end-product of the whole operation cannot be established in the absence of further evidence. To judge from the photograph, Federico's authorship is doubtful, and it may be that the painting was carried out by some local artist who was given the drawing to work from.
Literature: Rogers, Collection, facsimile engr., dated 1773, by S. Watts (Weigel 8689); P. Hentzner, Travels in England during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth ...to which is now added Sir Robert Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia, London, 1797, anonymous stipple engraving, dated 1 Jan. 1797, opp. p. 97; Körte, p. 74; E.K. Waterhouse, Burlington, lxix (1936), p. 134; J. Woodward, Tudor and Stuart Drawings, 1951, p. 14; R. Strong, The Elizabethan Image (exh. at Tate Gallery), London, 1969-70, no. 91; idem, The English Icon: Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture, 1969, p. 164; Elizabeth Goldring, 'Nicholas Hilliard: life of an artist' (London, Yale University Press, 2019), fig. 97.
* Waterhouse argues that Federico must have come to England towards the end of 1574, since he is 'recorded' as having made the drawings alter Holbein's lost paintings in the Hall of the Steelyard in that year. This presumably refers to the inscription and date 1574 in an old hand, possibly that of the draughtsman, on one of these copies (both in Berlin, 12886 and 12887; Gensheim 33875/6); but in England at that time the year began on 25 March and in Flanders (where Federico was immediately before coming to England) it was reckoned from one Easter to the next (see A. Cappelli, 'Cronologia, Cronografia e Calendario Perpetuo', Milan, 1930, pp. 18f.). In terms of the modern calendar, therefore, the English 1574 was from 25 March 1574 to 24 March 1575, and the Flemish from 11 April 1574 to 2 April 1575. The letter of 15 March published by Strong is dated 1574: i.e. 1575 according to the modern calendar.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1956-57 London, Royal Academy, 'British Portraits', no.542
1974 July-Dec, BM, Portrait Drawings, no.54
1995/6 Oct-Jan, London, Tate Britain, 'Painting in Britain' no.99
2003 May-Sept, London, National Maritime Museum, 'Elizabeth 1', no.68
2006 June-Sep, Warwick, Kenilworth Castle (English Heritage), 'Leicester and Elizabeth'
2015 Mar-Jul, Paris, Musée du Luxembourg, 'Les vrais Tudors'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Gere & Pouncey 1983
The facsimile engravings of this drawing and Gg,1.417 describe them as being in the collection of Lord Frederick Campbell (1729-1816), which according to H. Reveley, 'Notices illustrative of the Drawings and Sketches of some of the most Distinguished Masters', London, 1820, p. 8, "formed the reserved part of the late Duke of Argyle's". Sold, as property of John, Duke of Argyll, London, T. Philipe, 1798, 21 May, lot 63, bt C[racherode], £2-14-0).
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number