Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester 

 English School c.1650 

Portrait of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester,  English School c.1650
Oil on Panel
16th Century
45 x 34 in, 114 x 86 cm
To view paintings for sale, please visit the Tudor and Stuart page at www.philipmould.com.

This previously unknown portrait shows Dudley in the early 1560s. Dendrochronoligical analysis of the oak panels on which it is painted shows that the tree used has an earliest felling date of 1562. It is the prime version of three similar portraits, both of which appear to derive from the present example. A late sixteenth or early seventeenth century version, also on panel, is the Mellon collection, formerly at Horstead Place, Sussex. A reduced later copy on canvas, in which the hands have been altered, is at Montacute House, formerly in the collection of the Countess of London. A similar head and composition can be found in the c.1565 portrait in the possession of Lord Rothschild at Waddesdon Manor, previously in the collection of the Earls of Westmorland, in which Dudley is shown with a hunting dog, and in a different, grey, costume. The present picture, however, appears to have a more compelling original face than the above examples, right down to the hairy wart on Dudley’s right cheek, which is not evident in the other examples.

Robert Dudley was a younger son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. He was early brought into the society of Edward VI and Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth. Knighted at an early age, Dudley married Amy Robsart in 1549 and received preferment from the crown. Upon Edward's death (1553), he aided his father in the plot to place Lady Jane Grey upon the throne, was sent to the Tower of London, and condemned to death. He was later released, pardoned, and, after military service in France, restored to his rights (perhaps through the intervention of Mary I's husband, Philip II of Spain). On the accession of Elizabeth (1558), Dudley was made master of the horse and later a privy councillor. Within a year he was acknowledged as her favourite and as her most probable choice for a husband.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.