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Engraving - Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Cologne (printed)

  • Date:

    1592 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Passe, Crispijn de (the elder), born 1564 - died 1637 (engraver)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Edgar Seligman

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 57, case 13

Object Type
This is a type of print called an engraving. It is one of a series of engravings of the Queen commissioned by Hans Woutneel, a book and printseller from The Netherlands who settled in London in 1592. The model for the image of the Queen in this print was taken from a portrait 'pattern' in miniature produced by the miniaturist Isaac Oliver which is now in the V&A. Woutneel possibly commissioned the design from Oliver which was then forwarded to de Passe in the Netherlands to engrave.

In 1592 Elizabeth I was nearly sixty when she sat for the portrait on which this print is based. However the portrait was not favoured by the Queen or her government who preferred images that focussed on her iconic status as Queen rather than her mortality as an ageing woman. The succession had not been decided at this time and the government was anxious about the threat of instability after Elizabeth's death.

Ownership & Use
Prints were a more affordable form of image to own than oil paintings or miniatures. Due to the changing political and religious climate in Europe in the 1580s threats to the Queen's safety increased, especially from Spain. People acquired portraits of the Queen to demonstrate their devotion and loyalty.

Physical description

Print, portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, half-length, facing slightly left, crowned and holding an orb and sceptre, with the crowned arms of England in the upper right corner.

Place of Origin

Cologne (printed)


1592 (printed)


Passe, Crispijn de (the elder), born 1564 - died 1637 (engraver)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

'Elisabet D.G. Ang. Fran. Hib. Et Verg. Regina Fidei Christianae Propugnatrix Acerrima / Tristia dum gentes circum omnes bella fatigant Caecique errores toto grassantur in Orbe, Pace bneas longa, vera et pietate Britannos Justitiae, moderans sapienter habenas O Flors labe carens fidei santisima cultrix Char domi, celebrisque foris, spectatae Diuis Lux pietate nitens, tua virtus et inclyta fact Sic faciant tandem te Caelica Regna videre.'

Lettered below with verse

'Anglorum diadema tenens sceptrumque paternu Hac forma Insigni fortis Elisa nitet / 'Posui Deum Adjutorem Meum / Honoris ipsius causa aeri incidebat Crispianus Passaeus Belga.'
Lettered with title, engraver's name etc.


Height: 18.1 cm cut, Width: 12.4 cm cut

Descriptive line

Print, portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, engraving by Crispijn de Passe I, probably after Isaac Oliver, 1592.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Franken, Daniel. L’Oeuvre grave des Van De Passe. Amsterdam and Paris: F. Muller & Co., 1881.
O'Donoghue, Freeman. British Museum: Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits. London: Printed by order of the Trustees, 1908-25.
Hind, Arthur Mayger. Engraving in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. London: Cambridge University Press, 1952-5, 3 v.
Hollstein, F. W. H. Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts ca. 1450-1700. Amsterdam: M. Hertzberger, 1949.
Strong, Roy. Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963. xiv, 173 p. illus.
O’Donoghue, Freeman M. A Descriptive and Classified Catalogue of Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. London: B. Quartich, 1894.
Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1960: Volume 2, Edgar Seligman Gift. London: HMSO, 1966.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This print is based on a portrait by the miniature painter Isaac Oliver (about 1558-1617). Although Elizabeth had sat for the portrait, she disapproved of his emphasis on her ageing face. Elizabeth's government attempted to suppress such realistic images, because they undermined the myth of an ageless queen. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

This portrait is probably based on a miniature by Isaac Oliver. An unfinished miniature by Oliver with the same facial types is in the Department of Paintings, P.9-1940.



Subjects depicted

Coat of arms; Queen; Sceptre; Orb


Prints; Portraits; Royalty


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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