'Once in a lifetime' chance to acquire £10 million Queen Elizabeth I portrait
Published 23/05/2016 | 13:31
A version of one of the most famous portraits of Queen Elizabeth I will be owned by the public for the first time if a new £10 million campaign is successful.
The oil painting, one of three surviving renditions, depicts t he failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588.
It features the Queen in a gold embroidered and jewelled dress with her hand resting on a globe, while the English fleet enjoys calm waters and the approaching Spanish fleet is wrecked in a storm.
A total of £10 million needs to be raised in order to safeguard the future of the life-sized painting, which is considered to be a masterpiece.
The other two are on display at Woburn Abbey and the National Portrait Gallery in London.
The Art Fund has already pledged £1 million, while Royal Museums Greenwich has committed £400,000.
If the campaign is successful, the painting will enter public ownership for the first time in its 425-year history.
The Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, which is believed to have been painted in 1590, is currently owned by descendants of Sir Francis Drake.
It commemorates the most famous conflict of Elizabeth's 45-year reign and is one of the best-known images in British history.
As part of the national collection it would hang in the Queen's House, on the site of the original Greenwich Palace, which was Elizabeth I's birthplace.
During the campaign it will be on public display at the National Maritime Museum, while a consortium of supporters has pledged to match all public donations.
Kevin Fewster, director of Royal Museums Greenwich, said, "The Art Fund's very generous grant of £1 million is a fabulous kick-start to our campaign.
"Royal Museums Greenwich has a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire this remarkable portrait of Elizabeth I, so that it can be permanently shown in a public collection for the first time in its history, and safeguard its future.
"Greenwich is the perfect home for the Armada portrait. Elizabeth I was born at Greenwich Palace in 1533 and the early 17th-century Queen's House, where we would like to display the painting, is the last remaining part of the palace.
"If our campaign is successful, it will be the centrepiece of a lively programme of displays, talks, tours, and education initiatives. With 2016 being the 90th birthday year of our present Queen, there could not be a more appropriate way to celebrate the second great Elizabethan era."
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said, "This campaign is a huge challenge but we believe in the power of popular support to make great things happen. This picture truly belongs at Greenwich, and having it here forever is tantalisingly within our grasp."
Donations can be made at artfund.org/armada or text 70800 Armada to give £10.