Sunday, 27 May 2007

George Gower, Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, 1588

"The eye is deliberately drawn to Elizabeth's face, the focal point on the canvas, other-worldly, its smooth pale skin translucent enough to show the underlying veins on her temple. The Queen, whose artistic mind worked entirely in symbolism, dismissed shadow as a counteraction to her image of purity (7) and in later years she created a 'mask of youth' to sustain a public face of immortality, especially as she had not declared a successor. In the Rainbow Portrait, painted when she was aged sixty-three, she appears as a young maiden with loose hair, an uncovered chest and spring flowers, her hair spilling down like a bride's.

Elizabeth's femininity and proclaimed virginity is ever-present within her portraiture. In her delicate white hand (8) she holds the familiar symbol of womanhood, a fan; her richly ornamented dress is decorated with large pink bows. Pearls were an overt reference to the Queen's virginity, whilst her favored colours, black and white, symbolised constancy and purity."

George Gower [English Painter, ca.1540-1596]

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