The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I

The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I
c.1590

Iconic Portrait of Elizabeth I saved for the UK



A major public appeal by the Art Fund and Royal Museums Greenwich to help the museum acquire the iconic Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, has succeeded thanks to a major grant of £7.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

August 1 2016, source: Royal Museums Greenwich/ Christie's

The painting, sold by the descendants of Sir Francis Drake, enters public ownership for the first time in its 425-year-history, and in the 90th birthday year of the present Queen. As part of the national collection it will hang in the Queen’s House, on the site of the original Greenwich Palace, which was the birthplace of Elizabeth I herself. The Queen’s House will reopen on 11 October following major restoration.

Painted c.1590, the work commemorates the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588, remembered as the most famous conflict of Elizabeth I’s 45-year reign (1558-1603). The inspiration for countless portrayals of Elizabeth I in film and on stage, it is one of the most famous images in British history, capturing a vital moment in the English Renaissance.

The groundswell of public support for this masterpiece of the English Renaissance, one of the most famous images in British history, was recognized by HLF in its decision to offer substantial support.

The campaign began on 23 May with a £1m grant from Art Fund and £400k contribution from Royal Museums Greenwich. An overwhelming response from the public saw 8,000 donations in just 10 weeks, with every donation matched pound for pound, raising £1.5m in total. Major contributions were made by the Linbury Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Headley Trust. In total, £10.3m has now been raised. The extraordinary level of support from the public makes this one of the most successful ever campaigns for a work of art.


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