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Title Queen Elizabeth I
Collection English Heritage (Audley End)
Artist Rebecca, Biagio (Italian painter, 1735-1808, active in Great Britain)
Date 1774
Description This bust-length portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by the Italian painter Biagio Rebecca (1734/5-1808) belongs along side a series of thirteen ancestral portraits commissioned by Sir John Griffin Griffin, 4th Lord Howard de Walden, 1st Lord Braybrooke for the ornamentation of the Saloon at Audley End in Essex. This room the first in a suite of five, newly arranged by Sir John Griffin Griffin is most richly decorated, as an observer of 1819 wrote: 'The frieze, cornice, pilasters and other parts, are richly carved and gilt; and the chimney-piece contains some beautiful miniature paintings, with the arms of the Howard family'. The interior architecture of this room gracefully integrates the rooms original Elizabethan 'stuccoed ceiling ornamented with pendantives' and frieze with an eighteenth-century neoclassical panelled interior suggestive of an arcade, each arch of which incorporates a portrait of 'the distinguished personages connected with the history of the place' (Wright's History of Essex, 1836). An extensive inscription records the genesis and development of the house. It is perhaps surprising to find Elizabeth I (1533-1603) included among the series of Howard portraits at Audley End since she was responsible for the execution, on charges of treason, of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. However she treated his son more kindly, he became a trusted naval commander for her and was called to Parliament by her; in the next reign he was raised to Lord Chancellor.
Current Accession Number 81030140
Inscription front ll 'NON SINE SOLE / IRIS'
Subject portrait (Queen Elizabeth I)
Measurements 89 x 109 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased by the Department of the Environment 1971.
Provenance Commissioned from the artist by Sir John Griffin Griffin, 4th Lord Howard de Walden, 1st Lord Braybrooke, payment of 16 16s made 2 February 1774; recorded in the inventory of the purchaser, 1797; then by descent until 1971.
Publications Richard, 3rd Lord Baybrooke, History of Audley End and Saffron Walden, 1836; Catalogue of Pictures at Audley End, the Property of Lord Baybrooke, 4 August 1871.
Notes

Biagio Rebecca (1734/5-1808) was born at Osimo near Ancona in Italy. He studied at the Accademia di San Luca, Rome where he became a lifelong friend of Benjamin West, in 1761 he travelled to England with the portraitist James George with whom he was in partnership for a short time. He became one of the first students of the Royal Academy Schools on 31 January 1769 and was elected an Associate member of the RA in 1771. Rebecca was a highly skilled and prolific decorative painter and collaborated with the Adam brothers, with James and Samuel Wyatt and Henry Holland. He gained a considerable reputation for his grotesque paintings and grisaille bas-relief paintings examples of which are at Somerset House, London, Audley End, Essex, Heaton Hall, Lancashire, Harewood House, Yorkshire and Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire. Additionally Rebecca painted portraits and produced designs for stain glass, and book illustrations. He died at his lodgings in Oxford Street and is buried at St Pancras churchyard, London.

An extensive inscription in the saloon, the principal room decorated by Rebecca at Audley End records the genesis and development of the house: 'HEN VIII AD 1539 / GRANTED THE MONASTERY / OF WALDEN / ON THE SITE OF WHICH / THIS HOUSE NOW STANDS / TO LORD CHANCELOR AUDLEY / ELIZ AD 1597 / BY SPECIAL WRIT / SUMMOND TO PARLIAMENT / THOMAS / LORD HOWARD DE WALDEN / IN THE NEXT REIGN / CREATED EARL OF SUFFOLK / HE BUILT THIS HOUSE / AD 1616 / AFTER MANY REDUCTIONS / IT DESCENDED / AD 1762 / TO SIR JOHN GR. GRIFFIN KB / CONFIRMED / LORD HOWARD DE WALDEN / GEO III AD 1784 / HE / AMONG OTHER ADDITIONS / REFITTED / THE CEILING ACCEPTED/ THIS SALOON / TO COMMEMORATE / THE NOBLE FAMILIES / THROUGH WHOM / WITH GRATITUDE / HE HOLDS / THESE POSSESIONS'.

Rights Owner English Heritage Photo Library
Author Francesco Nevola
 

 

 

 

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