Dec. 9 Art Minute: ‘Elizabeth I, Queen of England’

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Unknown artist (British, 16th century), Elizabeth I, Queen of England.  Oil on canvas, about 1588. 30 x 25 in. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1953.94. Gallery 6

Unknown artist (British, 16th century), Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Oil on canvas, about 1588. 30 x 25 in. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1953.94. Gallery 6

Shakespeare’s characters and plays were dependent on patrons who supported the author financially. Elizabeth I loved theatre and was Shakespeare’s most famous supporter. As monarch of England for 45 years (1558–1603), Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, which coincided with Shakespeare’s time, is known as the Elizabethan Age. She understood the importance of the arts to life, culture, and the legacy of her country. With her support, professional theatres were built in England, attracting as many as 15,000 attendees per week in London.

Shakespeare adored the Queen and her Court. It is likely that he created A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a special Court performance. Kings, queens, jesters, and members of the Court are prominent characters in many of Shakespeare’s plays.


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