me, me, me …

… the Elizabethan earl who kept portrait painters busy for 30 years

Article by Mark Brown, arts correspondent, The Guardian {Sunday 21 December 2014}

Robert Dudley (oil on oak panel) by Steven van der Meulen. Photograph: ridgeman Art Library
Robert Dudley (oil on oak panel) by Steven van der Meulen. Photograph: Bridgeman Art Library
First Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley – a would-be suitor to Elizabeth I – sat for at least 20 portraits, says historian

If you can tell a person by their collection of paintings, what are we to make of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who commissioned more portraits of himself than any other courtier in Elizabethan England?

“If he lived today, we’d probably call him a selfie-addict,” said the historian Elizabeth Goldring, who has uncovered details of Dudley’s extraordinary collection for a new study of the man who probably won the heart, although not the hand, of Elizabeth I.

Goldring has discovered that Dudley commissioned at least 20 portraits of himself over 30 years. “Of course it is entirely possible he commissioned more than 20,” she said.

“However you look at it, he was commissioning vastly more portraits of himself than any other courtier in Elizabethan England. I’m not sure any of the continental Renaissance princes could quite match Dudley’s statistics.”

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