Elizabethan Lady Marriage Portrait

Buyer Protection Guaranteed


French 16th Century
Elizabethan Lady
Oil on panel
16 x 11 ½ inches;
21 x 16 ¾ inches including frame.

Christie's Paris, 21st of June 2011, lot 54

The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor period of the history of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history. The symbol of Britannia was first used in 1572, and often thereafter, to mark the Elizabethan age as a renaissance that inspired national pride through classical ideals, international expansion, and naval triumph over the Spanish – at the time, a rival kingdom much hated by the people of the land. In terms of the entire century, the historian John Guy (1988) argues that "England was economically healthier, more expansive, and more optimistic under the Tudors" than at any time in a thousand years.

The Role of Elizabethan Women - Education - The Nobility

The Elizabethan era brought the Renaissance, new thinking to England. Elizabethan women from wealthy and noble families were sometimes allowed the privilege of an education. The girls of Noble birth were invariably taught by tutors at home and Elizabethan women were taught from the age of five, or even younger. Various languages were taught including Latin, Italian, Greek and French. Music and dancing skills were essential for Elizabethan women. Elizabethan women were not allowed to go to university. Elizabethan women would have had to learn how to govern a household and become skilled in all housewifely duties. Her education would have been purely of the domestic nature in preparation for the only real career option for a girl - marriage! Single Elizabethan women were sometimes looked upon with suspicion. It was often the single women who were thought to be witches by their neighbours. All Elizabethan women would be expected to marry, and would be dependant on her male relatives throughout her life.

The Role of Unmarried Elizabethan Women in Society

At one time single women might spend their life in a convent or nunnery but due to the dissolution of the monasteries this was no longer an option. The only alternative to marriage for Elizabethan women from the lower classes was therefore domestic service. The married state was seen as highly desirable by all women of the lower classes. With parental permission it was legal for Elizabethan girls to marry at 12 although it was not usual for marriages at such young ages.

The Role of Elizabethan Women in Marriage

Elizabethan women were expected to bring a dowry to the marriage. A dowry was an amount of money, goods, and property that the bride would bring to the marriage. It was also referred to as her marriage portion. After marriage Elizabethan women were expected to run the households and provide children. Large families were the norm as the mortality rate for children and babies was so high. Many Elizabethan woman made arrangement for the care of their children in case they themselves died during childbirth.

The Role of Elizabethan Women in Society

Elizabethan woman were raised to believe that they were inferior to men. The Church believed this and quoted the Bible in order to ensure the continued adherence to this principle. The protestant leader John Knox wrote: "Women in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man".

Elizabethan Woman were totally dominated by the male members of their family. They were expected to instantly obey not only their father but also their brothers and any other male members of the family. The punishment for disobey was the whipping stool - the Elizabethan girls were beaten into submission and disobedience was seen as a crime against their religion. Elizabethan Women could not be heirs to their father's titles. All titles would pass from father to son or brother to brother, depending on the circumstances. The only exception was the monarchy.

The Roles of Famous Elizabethan Women in Society

Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603- never married. An independent and dominant woman who would not share her throne with a man. She would have also been required to show total obedience to her husband
Lettice Knollys 1540-1634 - Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth - married the Queen's favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in secret
Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke - 1561-1621 referred to as the Swan of Avon. The second most important woman in England next to the Queen
Amy Robsart - Robert Dudley's first wife who died in mysterious circumstances
Kat Ashley - Faithful servant of Queen Elizabeth from a small, neglected child to the most powerful woman in England
Mary Queen of Scots 1542-1587- Elizabeth's cousin who was kept prisoner in England until her execution for treason - conspired with Roman Catholics culminating in the Babington Plot
The Four Mary's - the Ladies in Waiting to Mary Queen of Scots - Mary Beaton, Mary Seaton, Mary Fleming and Mary Livingstone
Levina Teerlinc - female painter of the Elizabethan era


  • Artist
  • Creation Year
  • Condition
  • Dimensions
    16 in. H x 11.5 in. W
  • Seller Location
    London, United Kingdom
  • Reference Number
About the Seller

1stdibs seller since 2017

Typical response time: 1 hour

Located in London, GB

More from this Seller

Unknown Portrait of Charles II when a Baby, circa 1630
Portrait of Charles II when a Baby
Oil Paint
English School CIRCA 1630 PORTRAIT OF CHARLES II WHEN A BABY later inscribed lower right: K. Charles II oil on canvas 126.5 by 103.5 cm.; 49 3/4 by 40 3/4 in. 140 x 117 cm including fra...
Uknown Portrait, possibly Queen Elizabeth the 1st in the guise of Diana the Huntress, circa 1600
Portrait, possibly Queen Elizabeth the 1st in the ...
Oil Paint
17th Century English, Portrait, possibly Queen Elizabeth the 1st in the guise of Diana the Huntress Oil on canvas 11 ½ x 9 inches 21 x 18 inches including frame Elizabeth I (7 Septemb...
George Romney Portrait of Peregrine Bertie (1709-1779) , 1780
Portrait of Peregrine Bertie (1709-1779)
George Romney
Oil Paint
George Romney (26 December 1734 – 15 November 1802) was an English portrait painter. He was the most fashionable artist of his day, painting many leading society figures – including his...
Sir Henry Raeburn Provost John Pitcairn of Dundee, c.17
Provost John Pitcairn of Dundee
Sir Henry Raeburn
Oil Paint
The pendant to the present portrait showing John Pitcairn's wife Jean, née Robertson, is in the Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino. Both works are datable to the 1790s. Pitcairn, who se...
(After) Thomas Lawrence Portrait of Miss Martindale by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), circa 1792
Portrait of Miss Martindale by Sir Thomas Lawrence...
(After) Thomas Lawrence
Oil Paint
Literature: D. E. Williams, The Life and Correspondence of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Volume 1, p.127; "Sold for 25 gns", published 1831 Thomas Lawrence was the most fashionable portrait pai...
Unknown Miniature Portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh (Nicholas Hilliard tradition), c.17
Miniature Portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh (Nicholas...
Oil Paint
Sir Walter Raleigh was an English explorer, soldier and writer. At age 17, he fought with the French Huguenots and later studied at Oxford. He became a favorite of Queen Elizabeth after...
Unknown Virgin and Child, c.15
Virgin and Child
Oil Paint
Virgin and Child Italian circa 1520 Oil on panel in a carved, shaped, giltwood early frame 41 x 27 inches; 55 x 37 inc. frame Provenance: Sold by Mrs. F. Taylor to Mr. Mori for £18.18 ...
Unknown Italian 17th Century Landscape, 1700
Italian 17th Century Landscape
Oil Paint
Enormous 17th Century Italian landscape. Unframed at present. Excellent condition.
Nathaniel Dance-Holland Portrait of Phillip, 6th Viscount Wenman.
Portrait of Phillip, 6th Viscount Wenman.
Nathaniel Dance-Holland
Oil Paint
Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland (1750-1811) was an English portrait painter and one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768. Justly celebrated in his lifetime he won several im...
Enoch Seeman Portrait of The Hon George Treby, Secretary of War to George I.
Portrait of The Hon George Treby, Secretary of War...
Enoch Seeman
Oil Paint
Enoch Seeman was born in Poland into a family of artists. Aged just 10 the family moved to England hence why Seeman is often considered to be an English painter. Following an early care...
John Wootton A half-length portrait of Sir Robert Spencer in blue frock coat., Mi-1
A half-length portrait of Sir Robert Spencer in bl...
John Wootton
Oil Paint
Half length portrait of a gentleman, said to be Sir Robert Spencer. Provenance: Torridon House, Home of The Earls of Lovelace
Tilly Kettle Tilly Kettle Portrait of a lady in India, 1770
Tilly Kettle Portrait of a lady in India
Tilly Kettle
Oil Paint
Tilly Kettle was born in London, the son of a coach painter, in a family that had been members of the Brewers' Company of freemen for five generations. He studied drawing with William S...