Queen Elizabeth (Image © Dover Museum and Bronze Age Boat Gallery)
A 400-year old portrait of Queen Elizabeth I resplendent in parliament robes takes centre stage at the re-opening of Dover Museum yesterday (17 May 2021).
The painting, ‘Elizabeth with the Cardinal and Theological Virtues’ was purchased by the Corporation of Dover in 1598 for 25 shillings!
It is one of very few known portraits purchased for a civic setting and was displayed in the Maison Dieu (Dover Town Hall) as evidence of the town’s loyalty to the Crown.
Founded in 1836, Dover Museum is one of the oldest museums in Kent. Entry to the museum is free. Visits can be booked online so that visitor numbers can be managed to maintain social distancing.
Queen Elizabeth I reigned for 45 years from 1558 to 1603 although very few of her subjects would have ever seen her in person. The portrait shows her as a young woman but was painted in the 40th year of her reign.
Portraying the Queen as a great leader the painting features a number of female figures designed to associate the Queen with the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, and the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude.
Cllr MJ Holloway, Cabinet Member for Tourism at Dover District Council, said: “We’re delighted to welcome visitors back to Dover Museum to see our remarkable collections telling the history of Dover and the wider district.
“The portrait of Queen Elizabeth I is one of the finest paintings in the Museum’s collections and a fitting centrepiece of our re-opening as the country prepares to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022.”
Cllr MJ Holloway