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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Portrait Crisis

At the very first glance, one can tell the portaits on the left and on the right are vastly different in color, attire, and symbolism. The portrait on the right is Elizabeth "in blacke with a hoode and cornet", titled the Clopton Portrait, (c. 1558-60). The portrait on the right is called The Hampden Portrait, by Van Der Meulen, (1560s). Apparently, the The Hampden Portrait was produced in response to a crisis over the production of the royal image, one which was reflected in the words of a draft proclamation dated 1563. The draft proclamation (though never published) was a response to the circulation of poorly-made portraits in which Elizabeth is shown "in blacke with a hoode and cornet", a style she no longer wore. The Hampden Portrait is also a full length portrait, which highlights the seriousness of the matter, since it is clear that the painter and Elizabeth's people were trying to emphasize that Elizabeth was no longer wearing the 'hoode and cornet.' The symbolism of the Clopton Portrait shows Elizabeth holding a book (possibly a prayer book) suggesting either studiousness or piety. In the The Hampden Portrait, Elizabeth wears a red rose on her shoulder, a symbol of the Tudor dynasty and of maidenly chastity, and holds a gillyflower in her hand. From these two portraits we can see that Elizabeth is in a transition from a recognisable human to a goddess, as she is for the most part unadorned in symbolism.

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