1585 "Ermine" portrait by Nicholas Hilliard (Hatfield House, Hatfield UK)

The "Ermine" portrait is another of the allegorical portraits of Queen Elizabeth of England.

This is Marileecody.com's description:  "Why is Elizabeth seated with an ermine? It was the symbol of royalty; and, if you look closely at the animal, you can see the gold crown it wears. The crown symbolizes majesty and purity. As for the bejeweled black gown and background - black and white were the queen's favorite colors. Also, the deep, dark color reinforces the symbolic gravity of the painting.

In this portrait, Elizabeth wears the famous 'Three Brothers' jewel - a gem made of three diamonds set in a triangle around a pointed diamond. It was one of her most treasured jewels. The sword of state rests on the table beside the queen and symbolizes justice; she also holds an olive branch to symbolize peace."

Her dark gown is decorated with paired bands, possibly parallel slashes or straps marked by bands on the lengthwise edges and four marks along the length of each strap between the bands. Gold beads are placed in between the paired slashes or straps. Her bodice and skirt appear to be joined along a seam running down the entire length of the bodice and skirt, the sides of the seam joined by spectacular goldwork and gem froggings. The necklace beneath her ruff is spectacular. Her inner ruff appears to have a crease to allow it to slope upwards more in back where it is confined by her outer ruff and veil. The headdress is jeweled all around its periphery, surmounted by corona of more jewels. Sleeve rolls are repaced by two bands of jewels on each sleeve. Her huge necklaces are made of black pearls.

Norris in Tudor Costume and Fashion, p. 602 (Dover re-issue 1997), describes her dress - "The lines of the black velvet dress, pounced all over with cuttes and engraved gold buttons, headdress, and circular ruff, suggest that the style is of the same make as described under the 'Portland' portrait... The cutwork, of which the circular ruff and cuffs are composed, is a very beautiful specimen of the lace-makers' craft... The jewels worn are diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls. An ermine climbing up the Queen's left wrist and peering into her face has given the title to the painting. As an emblem of chastity, the ermine was an especially appropriate compliment to the Virgin Queen."

Keywords:  1585, Hilliard, Queen Elizabeth Tudor, Tudor family, English, Queen, frizzy coiffure, high neckline, neck ruff, lace, outer ruff, veil, jeweled headdress, rolled sleeves, full puffed sleeves, double cuffs, carcanet necklace, draped necklace, jeweled headdress, framing headdress, jeweled skirt, jeweled bodice, bracelets, jeweled frogging, girdle, vee waistline, farthingale, fan

This site is for educational and information use. It is open for downloading and use without charge. I only ask that these images not be used for profit! I can be contacted at:  contactme@gogmsite.net.