Thursday 17th March 2016
The Bayeux Tapestry
Speaker: Imogen Corrigan
Embroidered on linen cloth in only ten different colours, vibrant as when it was first made 900years ago, the Bayeux Tapestry tells the story of that most famous battle in English history -Hastings 1066. At nearly70 metres long, it is one of the supreme achievements of the Norman Romanesque. It reveals a moral tale of kings, chivalry and ambition, demonstrating that good cannot come to those who break their word. But who made it, where and why?
Thursday 21th April 2016
Magyars and Gypsies: Liszt and the Hungarian National Style
Speaker: Dr. Rosamund Bartlett
In the 19th century Liszt was a celebrated composer and virtuoso pianist in Europe. Yet for many, he represented the soul of the Magyar people and was seen in Hungary as a national hero; his nineteen Hungarian Rhapsodies were wildly popular. But what exactly was Hungarian about them? And why did Liszt and other composers associate Hungarian music with gypsies?
Thursday 19th May 2016
Leonardo the Scientist
Speaker: Guy Rooker
Leonardo da Vinci ( 1452-1519) may have painted the best-known portrait in the world but local residents may be surprised to learn that, closer to home, there is a model of his enormous crossbow design on display at the Armouries Museum in Stratford.
Leonardo was the ultimate Renaissance Man – not only was he a painter and sculptor, but he was also an inventor, an engineer and an anatomist. Although he appears not to have attended school (he was left-handed and he wrote in mirror image) he insisted that Nature was his teacher. His career carried him between the cities of Florence, Milan and Rome, and with his genius quickly recognised, he was elected to the “Confraternity of Painters” at the early age of 20.
Several outside influences changed his mode of painting: one was the early production of paper in Florence and a second was the invention of the printing press in Germany. Traditionally, 15th century painters used egg tempera, but Leonardo preferred working in oil. This suited his slow style of workmanship, as oil paint on paper can be repainted and improved on paper many times. He also pioneered the three-quarter style pose portraits, the use of chiaro-scuro (light and shade) and he experimented with the camera obscura with its pinhole lens.
Leonardo took great interest in perspective, and his Last Supper in Milan, with its great depth created by the superb use of linear perspective, perfectly illustrates his genius. As we look at the Last Supper, our eyes are drawn to the four separate groups of disciples so that we become more aware of the narrative story. In the same painting, we pause to admire the exquisitely drawn hands of each apostle.
Hands, and indeed all anatomy, were a source of fascination to Leonardo. His famous diagram of the Vitruvian Man shows his great interest in the proportions of the body. He undertook many dissections on bodies he obtained from public hangings and maintained that he needed to dissect the anatomy to be able to paint it properly. His detailed diagrams included, as well as bones, the muscles, blood vessels and tendons of the anatomy. His painting “The Virgin on the Rocks” is another example of the superb depiction of the sitters’ hands.
Apart from his magnificent paintings, Leonardo found time to follow his scientific leanings. His wide-ranging interests included wind and water, and he completed many drawings of cascades (subsequently re-utilised in his depiction of women’s hair in complex ringlet styles). He was involved in plans to alter the flow of the River Arno in Florence and invented an instrument to measure the speed of wind. Other extraordinary inventions included war machines, an odometer to measure distance and machines using ball-bearings.
Leonardo’s admirers will know of his fascination with flying, as his drawings and diagrams for a parachute, a heliopter and a hand-glider were precursors to our modern-day equipment.
The astute King Francois I of France invited Leonardo to spend his final years in the Chateau du Clos Luce near Amboise. Leonardo, now aged 64, travelled across the Alps on a mule with his retinue and some of his paintings – including the Mona Lisa. In the grounds of this chateau are reproductions of some of Leonardo’s most extraordinary inventions, including a flying machine, a wooden bridge, and a windmill, proving that this artistic genius was a scientific genius as well.
Thursday 16th June 2016
Magnificent Mosaics – Windows into the Colourful Roman World
Speaker: Christopher Bradley
Christopher Bradley, a much-respected archaeologist and lecturer, took STRADFAS members this month on a virtual tour around the Mediterranean Sea, demonstrating how the Roman Empire stretched from the United Kingdom in the north across Europe and into Asia and Africa.Naturally the Romans learnt their craft from the Assyrians, the Phoenicians and the Greeks before them, and much can be learnt about the social life of Roman people – including their interests and culture, their dress, their ornaments and even their food – from their magnificent mosaics.
During the Greek Empire, pebbles were used in floor pictures, but Roman workmen introduced tiny pieces of stone to create mosaics. A magnificent example is in Dougga, Tunisia, where a wall mosaic, showing a variety of fish in bright colours, was created around the sides of a plunge pool, and at Sabratha in Libya, there is a sign in blue and white mosaic, in perfect condition, proclaiming in Latin “bathing is good for you”, and surrounded by images of lamps and Roman sandals. Is this an early example of Government health advice
Naturally the Romans learnt their craft from the Assyrians, the Phoenicians and the Greeks before them, and much can be learnt about the social life of Roman people – including their interests and culture, their dress, their ornaments and even their food – from their magnificent mosaics.~
During the Greek Empire, pebbles were used in floor pictures, but Roman workmen introduced tiny pieces of stone to create mosaics. A magnificent example is in Dougga, Tunisia, where a wall mosaic, showing a variety of fish in bright colours, was created around the sides of a plunge pool, and at Sabratha in Libya, there is a sign in blue and white mosaic, in perfect condition, proclaiming in Latin “bathing is good for you”, and surrounded by images of lamps and Roman sandals. Is this an early example of Government health advice?
Greek mythology influenced Roman subject matter and, again in Dougga, there is a spectacular mosaic of a scene from Homer’s Odyssey, where Ulysses is tied to the mast of a boat at sea. Even the music in this myth is represented by jagged lines in the sky.
Of course, Pompeii abounds in wonderful examples, including a beautiful mosaic of different fish, including an easily-recognisable octopus, on the floor of a fishmonger’s shop. Another powerful mosaic here shows Alexander the Great on horseback winning the Battle of Issus over Darius III, completed about 100 BC. Mosaics are notoriously hard to date, apart from the ones at Pompeii when we know they were completed before 79AD!
Mosaics were always commissioned by wealthy patrons in the Roman world, and often entire families from poor backgrounds were involved in what was seen as a lowly profession. Children were particularly useful at this work as their small fingers could achieve greater precision with tiny pieces of tessera. ~At Leptis Magna in Libya, a mosaic shows “The four seasons” with four Gods depicted in panels representing grapes, roses, olives and wheat, reminding us that for the Roman world, north Africa was one of their main food suppliers.
Thursday 15 September 2016
Powerhouse of the East: the British tradition, Modernism and Fine art in Singapore.
Speaker: Vivienne Laws
What is the connection between the East India Company and the gibbons on a Singapore bank note? Viv Lawes answered this whilst giving a fascinating lecture on the history of the development of art in Singapore.
Sir Stamford Raffles, as an employee of The East India Company, helped establish a British colony on Singapore whilst setting up a permanent base for the company between China and the West. As Singapore became a centre of world trade, art developed there in three ways: through the institutional framework such as The National Museum of Singapore, the National University of Singapore and The National Gallery of Singapore Art, through academia and through marketing and how it is sold.
Art which originated in the West was part British and part Western Modernism. British employees of The East India Company needed an education for the children of their employees, many of whom were Chinese, so art education was introduced through the Cambridge examination system. Richard Walker, who was a teacher and examiner of the Cambridge exam board, introduced art through his teaching and examining. He had a great influence on Chinese artists.
Three strands of British art were identified. Firstly, topographical art which grew out of war and trade such as Singapore Town from Government Hill looking East c 1850 by J. Turnbull Thompson which would have been used to show the British Government the local landscape. Secondly she explained how watercolour was so much easier to use in such a hot climate as the paint was easier to carry than oils and it dried quicker. Thirdly, watercolours could be categorised into three types. One type was the meticulous use of water colour such as paintings by Paul Sandby 1731-1809. There were also artists such as Alexander Cozens who painted A Blot: Landscape Composition 1770-80 using the whole paper, it has less detail but shows light, dark, space and density. Nothing is hidden. Finally the Romantic artists such as Thomas Girton whose painting Near Bolton Abbey Yorkshire 1715-82 shows the power of nature with a tortured, suffering artist at work. These artists were gentlemen artists who could afford to paint for leisure. They would have been taught at The Royal Academy of Art.
Meanwhile in China the traditional Chinese Ink Paintings of the Northern Song Dynasty were developing. Chinese ink is shiny and sticky and applied with an inverted tear drop shaped brush which ends in a single hair. This allows the brush to produce different calligraphic lines which allows the formation of different textures. There is no drying out or blobbiness on the silk or rice paper which was used as it absorbed the colour. So these Chinese traditions became combined with Impressionism through the influence of Richard Walker. A slide of Kusu Island with its soft palette and sharp sunshine showed us the beginnings of the fusion of the two painting styles.Lim Cheng Hoe‘s paintings are typical. However, there is a lack of background which is typical of Singapore Chinese paintings. There are often bursts of colour.
Calligraphy is part of Chinese paintings such as Home Town by Chen Wen Tsi where the actual calligraphy looks like hanging petals. The calligraphy is poetic and is essential to the painting. There is sometimes a red seal on Chinese paintings which is part of composites by gentlemen Chinese painters.
The British Council encouraged the foundation of the Singapore Art Society co-founded by Richard Walker and Liu Kay through The Singapore Water Colour Society. It was born in order to expand Singapore art. The Nangyang School of Art, founded in the 1930’s ,fuses Chinese Ink painting with the Western Modern Movement. Its members were influenced by Gaugain who was perceived to be searching for Paradise. Among other influences were Picasso, Van Gogh and Cezanne. The final slides were of artist Jane Lee and one of her modern compositions called The Stack.
Viv then explained that through the numerous art fairs on the island and abroad Singapore is selling new and exciting art at very high prices! She commented that she is involved with the Saatchi Gallery in London as it is currently promoting art from China.
The answer to my question at the opening of this article is to be found on the Singapore 50 dollar note on which the painting of the gibbons shows the fusion of British watercolours and Chinese Ink Painting which may not have come about if it was not for the East India Company!
Thursday 20th October 2016
Symbols, Emblems and Double-entendre in Dutch genre painting
Speaker: Lynne Gibson
Lynne Gibson, an experienced freelance lecturer in the History of Art as well as a painter in her own right, ensured that after an hour everyone who attended her wonderful lecture viewed Dutch Paintings in an entirely different light! Her lecture entitled “Symbols, Emblems an Double Entendres in Dutch Paintings,” began by explaining that the wealthy Dutch Middle Class merchants of the middle 1600’s wanted to display their cultural credentials without reference to religious or baroque paintings. They wanted art which not only celebrated their everyday lives and landscapes but also sneered at those pretending to be what they were not.
One of the paintings, entitled Maid at The Window by Gerit Dou c 1660, illustrated the idea that a painting is like a window onto the world but Lynne Gibson argued that such paintings can also have hidden meanings in them showing a very different world. In the background there is a dutiful mother teaching her son and she is using emblem books to do this. Such books were popular amongst the Middle Classes. Each page had a picture, a poem and a motto on a particular theme. A popular theme was love. However, the saucy maid takes centre stage. She shows bare arms which was an unusual thing for her to do-it was considered a part of the body that was personal and private at that time. She is holding a jug pouring water and this could represent the female body. There is a frieze showing love and cupids. Beside her is a pot plant growing fruit – a hidden message signifying marriage and love. An imprisoned bird in a cage on a wall illustrates how a woman may be imprisoned by her lover who keeps her safe and protected from predatory men.
We saw a plethora of slides by artists such as Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen and Gerard Ter Borch which also all seemed to have hidden meanings behind the main scenes. A Young Woman at her Toilet by Gerit Dou shows a woman in red, signifying one who was not entirely proper(a scarlet woman!). There is no chandelier in the room but a bird in a cage. There is an empty chair in the foreground, indicating someone is coming into the room. She is wearing pearls which were kept for best occasions and they can be associated with love. However, the maid is also wearing pearls and the mistress is allowing this, showing the viewer that she is mistress over a household where people are not behaving as they should!
A painting by Jan Steen shows a lady donning red stockings so maybe she is a prostitute and is guilty of impetuous behaviour. There was an emblem book, which the Dutch of the time would have known, showing someone putting on stockings and it warns not to give in to animal instincts as this will lead to ruin! Her lap dog is lying on the bed. Dogs are associated with fidelity and marital love. A lap dog usually sits on a lady’s lap and is so close to her body that the dog reflects the innermost feelings of the lady. As the dog is asleep it maybe indicating she is waiting for someone. The kicked off shoes suggest impetuosity and the half filled chamber pot illustrates she is not a good housewife as a good one would always empty it and put it away! Such paintings at face value did not alarm or corrupt so could be displayed openly in homes.
Oysters, cats, dogs, plucked chickens, foot warmers, bed warmers, swords, pearls, virginals, picture tiles, empty wine glasses as well as glasses held at the rim were among the many objects which have hidden meanings.
Thursday 17th November 2016
‘Thy Trembling Strings’
Speaker: Sarah Deere-Jones
On November 17 Sarah Deere- Jones enthralled the members of STRADFAS with her singing; playing, slides and lecture on the subject of the harp during the Regency period .She showed us a slide of guests attending Almack’s Club in London which was a fashionable place for the stars of the time to go to dance. Paine reduced all the music played there to a small booklet for the attendees to take home with them. Sarah then treated us to a short recital of three different dances from Paine of Almack’s Quadrilles adapted for the harp.
She explained that harps have ancient origins which go back to the time of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt and they have several different shapes. Early harps had no key changing ability but gradually, with the merging of the arts and science, foot pedals were added allowing key changes. Engineers such as James Watt and Benjamin Franklyn worked on the mechanics of the harp to allow for a greater range. A harp has over one hundred strings and with the introduction of the forchette by Sebastian Erard, sharps as well as flats and naturals could be played using thicker pedal boxes. Each of the seven pedal boxes has three positions.
Sarah then examined some social history by reminding us how ladies of the highest rank in the Regency period learnt to play the harp to display their accomplishments in order to attract marriage proposals! Harps are expensive and status symbols, so they were used to enable the ladies to not only look but sound beautiful! Young girls from wealthy families were given a musical education and were constantly pressurised to practise 4-6 hours a day. By 1814 bracing devices were invented to control their hands which were strapped to the keyboard!
Sarah quoted several times from Jane Austen which showed the importance of a lady being able to play the harp for her place in society. Lady Conygham, the Prince Regent’s mistress, was a harpist and in a letter to Cassandra Jane Austen commented on how fashionable it was to try to look like Lady Conyngham! By the early 19 century harps were built by craftsmen who painted and gilded them. Some were decorated with oil paintings and carvings. They were built for great houses so ladies sit by harps for portraits as a sign of great wealth and success. A woman was not allowed to show emotion and could not take the lead in getting to know a man so musical soirees were arranged when the man could approach her and compliment her. He may even offer to turn the music pages for her! Sarah then sang for us a Thomas Moore song called The Last Rose of Summer whilst accompanying herself on the harp. It was a charming, beautiful, mesmerizing performance which illustrated so well how a lady could have attracted a suitor in Regency times.
At the other end of the social scale, in Viggiani in Italy, poor children were apprenticed to a padrone who made them beg for money whilst the harp was being played. She cited horrendous stories of the treatment of these children; one was tied to a bed by harp strings for four days and nights! The residents of Viggiani made these harps but eventually this idea of using child labour went out of favour.
More literature was alluded to when she introduced the Aeolian harp which uses the wind blowing through the strings to create beautiful sounds. Shelley and Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote about this in poems such as Dejection an Ode and Ode to the West Wind in the late 18 century. She concluded by showing cartoons which poked fun at harp players and then she finished by playing a piece of ancient Irish music.
Thursday 8th December 2016
Artists and their Muses
Speaker: Alexandra Epps
Alexandra Epps, a guide and lecturer from Tate Modern and Tate Britain began by defining a muse as “a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.”She explored the muses of Rossetti, Rodin, Picasso and Stieglitz.
Rossetti’s muse, Elizabeth Siddall has been immortalised by Millais in his painting of her as Ophelia. As Rossetti became obsessed with her, she sat exclusively for him. In those times, red hair was seen as a sign of a witch or prostitute and could bring bad luck. However, such was Rossetti’s feelings for her that he painted her long red hair and showed her reading or resting but passive and distant. He was depersonalising her. Elizabeth’s own portrait of herself at the same time is someone of the real world, looking out at the audience. Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddall moved in together but did not marry and her portraits show her as becoming increasingly unwell. She became addicted to laudanum. Their relationship faltered and this is depicted in the triptych called Paola and Francesca da Rimini in 1855. Here, a couple is shown with a rose-signifying love-on the left but on the right hell is represented by a couple, one of whom is Dante, suggesting a doomed relationship. Siddall wanted to become an artist and sculpt in her own right and her state of mind is shown in her painting entitled The Ladies’ Lament of 1856.This shows women waiting for the return of their men who have been lost in a storm at sea. She paints herself as one of these women with her glorious long red hair looking very sad. On their honeymoon he paints a very unflattering view of their lives in How They Met Themselves where he is looking back, reflecting how his life was before they married. She becomes very ill and he paints her as the beautiful queen of hearts in Regina Cordium in 1866. However, he also took commissions for other ladies to be portrayed in the same way.Bocca Baciato depicts her as extremely attractive with her red hair, red lips and dress unbuttoned. There is a rose for love and an apple for temptation. Although this would have been considered shocking at the time it does show his love for her. She miscarried, became unstable and died of an overdose. However, he was also obsessed with Jane Morris, the wife of William Morris and in his painting Dante’s Dream in 1880 the lady has Siddall’s hair but Jane’s features!
The relationship between Rodin and his muse Camille Claudel is a story of love, art and self destruction. She actually changed the style of his work from the era when he depicted powerful physicality in sculptures such as The Thinker. She was employed as part of his team as a sculptress but modelled for him as well. In 1885 in L’Aurore, Rodin sculpted her face in smooth marble emerging from a textured marble block. He influenced her work as well and she sculpts him in 1889 in The Bust of Rodin which he loved! However, Rodin, too, had another love as he was living with his older housekeeper. Claudel became paranoid, they broke up and he depicts her in The Farewell in 1898 where her hands are covering her mouth either showing a kiss or a fond farewell. The Age of Maturity of 1898 illustrates this eternal triangle with a man in the middle between an older woman pulling him away. A break in his hand between the man and the younger woman symbolises the breakdown of their relationship. However, he did specify in his will that her work must be shown in his museum in Paris.
Picasso and one of his muses Dora Maar was portrayed in tears many times. He saw “women as machines for suffering.”She was beautiful and it is her hands that he painted repeatedly. They met in a cafe where she was stabbing a knife between her fingers, frequently missing and drawing blood! He found this fascinating and even kept her blood stained gloves! She was a surrealist painter and photographer and Alex showed us how the styles of the two merged over time. This is illustrated in his masterpiece called Guernica of 1937, with its tones of black, white and grey. As Dora documented the creation of this masterpiece she became part of it. She has spiky hair, long fingernails and appears angular in every painting. In his portrait of her in 1937 her ear appears in the shape of a bee supposedly illustrating that he feeds on the nectar of her intellect. He paints her over 500 times but she is only smiling in two of them! However, at the same time, he too has another love; Marie Therese Walter. He paints her In Nude, Green Leaves and Bust in 1932 with sensuous curves, asleep and his initials enclosing her as if he is claiming ownership. She miscarries his baby and he paints a weeping woman with a dead child at this time. He shows her ear like a bee also, but this time he is feeding off her tears. Dora and Marie Therese actually fight over Picasso in his studio and in the end Dora Maar cannot take her life with Picasso anymore and she suffers a nervous breakdown, although she still paints today.
Alex concluded with Stieglitz, the father of modern avant-garde photography in America. His photograph of Winter in 1907 in Fifth Avenue shows an impressionist style. O’Keefe was an unknown artist until he promoted her charcoal drawings. She found out that he was exhibiting her work in his New York Gallery without her permission and so she went there to find out why. He became enthralled with her and even though he was married, he photographed different parts of her body over 300 times. His work became more abstract and her work became more physical so that by the time she painted Radiation Building Night in New York their work is nearly the same, so great was their influence on one another. O’Keefe went onto become the mother of American Modernism with paintings such as Jimson Weed White Flower which made more money for her than any other woman painter! Alex concluded with showing us O’Keefe’s painting called View from a Plane Looking out on Clouds which illustrates that the sky is the limit today in terms of artistic inspiration! Muses can triumph!
Thursday 19 January 2017
America’s Realist Genius: the art of Edward Hopper
Speaker: Eric Shanes
‘A painter of gloomy paintings that don’t make us feel gloomy’.
Hopper helps us to recognise the loneliness which so often lies at the heart of sadness. Born in New York State in 1882, Hopper felt like an outsider. His paintings show how isolated life can be, echoing our own griefs. This realist painter shows his personal view of the American Dream in the 20th century.
Eric Shanes is a practising painter. He is the author of fourteen books on Turner, including the bestselling book of all time on the artist. His forthcoming biography of Turner has already been hailed as definitive. Also he has authored books on Hockney, Dalí, Warhol, Brancusi, the Impressionists in London, Pop Art. He lectures at the National Gallery, National Gallery of Scotland, Tate Galleries, and has led many American and European tours.
The raffle prize is
‘Edward Hopper. Masterpieces of Art’
Hopper’s well known works are reproduced here in full colour. The book delves further than the obvious paintings in order to fully understand his motivation and then reassesses his works in a fresh light. It also explains his style and technique and has some discussion of Hopper from different viewpoints. His works are cross referenced throughout.
Thursday 16th February 2017.
The Queenes Pickture: Portraits of Elizabeth 1 .
Lecture by Dr. Gillian White.
Gillian gallantly stepped in at the last minute to deliver this lecture because of the indisposition of the lecturer who had been booked.
These days we are familiar with the monarch through seeing her in situations based on reality. Realism in terms of a true likeness of Elizabeth 1 was of no consequence in those times. Her portraits were governed by symbolism and emblems. These symbols were illustrated by a panelling picture of Henry VIII 1543-1547 showing his “family.” Henry is in the centre, sitting down, under a canopy showing the royal arms, with HR VIII painted on it. His hand is placed on Edward Prince of Wales who would become Edward VI. The future of the monarchy is shown as male and at the centre. Jane Seymour is also in this picture even though by this time she was dead but she had produced the male heir so she is important enough to be included. Near the architectural columns at either side are the girls; Henry’s daughters, Mary on the left and Elizabeth on the right. They are in almost identical clothing, submissive and waiting to be instructed for their lives. The first portrait of Elizabeth on her own shows her as a 13 year old on the edge of an adult adventure in a fully enclosed interior as she has been quietly and protectively brought up. She is wearing a crimson gown illustrating her father’s wealth. There are pearls set in gold edging her bodice .She is wearing a ruby and diamond necklace. In a brooch are 3 pendant pearls which are symbols of purity. There is also a design in the shape of a cross showing she is a princess of a reformed religion. The diamonds are black as there was no technology then to bring out their lustre. She is holding a religious book with her finger in the page showing how Christian and scholarly she was. Behind her is a larger, blank book saying her story is still to be written.
The portrait of Elizabeth in 1600 aged 25 years at her coronation shows her, despite the problem of gender, as a resplendent monarch with an orb, sceptre, golden robes, ermine and a crown. Rubies, pearls and diamonds were set in gold and the gold, jewelled crown showing her semi divinity. The Hampden Portrait of Elizabeth by Steven van der Meulen reflects an expectation that she would marry. She had just survived smallpox, there was the possibility of civil war and there was pressure on her to name a successor. She is telling parliament she will marry if it is right for the country and she is resting on an empty golden chair, a symbol for her throne expressing her power and her willingness to share it with someone. The most important image is the tapestry foliage at the side indicating fruitfulness that she will in her own time be fruitful. The painting of Elizabeth and the Three Goddesses is painted when she is in a very different place. She is shown as strong, beautifully dressed with two ladies in waiting behind her. She carries a sceptre, wears her crown and holds the golden orb. On the other side of the painting Elizabeth is met by the goddesses Juno, the queen of all goddesses representing honourable matrimony, Athena in the centre representing a chaste, virgin and Venus with Cupid a symbol of physical love. The goddesses are offering her a choice of the three. The Elizabethans would have been familiar with the judgement of Paris where he is told to choose the greatest of these three and his prize is a golden apple, thus linking with Elizabeth holding the golden orb. Elizabeth us shown as greater as and even higher than them so the decision seem s to have been made that she will not marry and procreate. As she ages, the appearance of the masque of youth is shown in portraits. We were shown the Darnley Portrait of 1572 where she is resplendently dressed with a crown in the background, her face shows a cold severe masque. She will appear like this for the next 30 years in portraits, thus illustrating she has stopped the aging process so there is no need to worry about the succession. The Nicholas Hilliard Pelican Portrait of the queen is so called because of the jewelled pelican pendant in the centre on her dress over her heart. It is heavy in symbolism as it draws blood from its own body to feed its young, inferring that Elizabeth will nurture all her subjects and give her own life’ s blood for them. She is shown with the chalk white masque again. This is 16 century spin doctoring! The Phoenix portrait shows her in extremely rich clothing, the masque of youth and a Tudor rose with an enormous diamond. The phoenix in the centre is a useful symbol as it is reborn in fire for strength and leadership. This implies she will be forever young, strong and powerful.
We were shown other portraits echoing the themes of power, strength and eternal life with magnificent jewels. The Armada Portrait of 1588 by George Gower depicts Elizabeth sitting at the centre like a great spider seemingly controlling the elements of light and a tempest. Her power is now so great. The crown imperial orb is on her head and under her hand is a globe showing the Spanish defeat and the conquering of the Americas. The Ditchley Portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts shows her standing on the top of a map of England, like an oak tree. England is no longer great enough; she is an empress now as an armillary sphere hangs near her representing the entire universe. In The Rainbow Portrait Elizabeth is approaching 70 years old and is holding a rainbow inscribed with “Non sine sole iris” meaning there is no rainbow without the sun implying she is the sun, she is so great. Her dress is covered with ears and eyes indicating she sees and hears everything. On the sleeve is a bejewelled serpent showing wisdom. There is a great ruby heart symbolising that her intellect overrules her heart. She has put her feelings aside for the nation.