Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait sketch of Sir Henry Lee (1530 - 1610) 1600c.

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561/2-1636)

Portrait sketch of Sir Henry Lee (1530 - 1610), Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
Oil on canvas
17th Century
25 x 18 1/2 inches 63.5 x 47 cm
This unfinished oil study is probably the ad-vivum face sketch for Gheeraerts1 celebrated portrait of Lee at Ditchley, executed in c.1600.

It would appear to be through Lee that Gheeraerts achieved his prominence as court painter, most particularly through the great Ditchley portrait of Elizabeth I which celebrated her reconciliation with Lee.

Lee was witness at the baptism of one of Gheeraerts1 children, and through his patronage was most likely directly responsible for a large proportion of his prominent commissions.

The face is executed with an unusual degree of sympathy in the context of Elizabethan iconography. This may be partly explained by the special relationship that existed between artist and sitter; it may also be due to the extreme rarity of comparable Elizabethan portrait studies which can exhibit a degree of spontaneity rarely seen in formal mannerist works of the period.
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