The three surviving versions of the iconic Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I are to go on public display together in a free exhibition at the Queen’s House in Greenwich in February.
The exhibition, entitled Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I, is the first time the paintings have been displayed together in their 430-year history.
One of the most famous images in British history, the Armada Portrait commemorates the biggest conflict in Elizabeth’s reign, the Spanish Armada’s failed attempt to invade England in 1588.
Royal Museums Greenwich will showcase its own version of the Armada Portrait – which was saved in 2016 following a major public appeal with Art Fund and funding from the National Lottery – alongside the two other surviving versions, from the collections of Woburn Abbey and the National Portrait Gallery.
All three versions of the Armada Portrait are believed to have been painted shortly after the event in 1588.
Copies of the portrait pattern have been made over the centuries, the three portraits that will be united at the Queen’s House are the only on temporary versions in existence, and the only three featuring seascapes that depict episodes from the Spanish Armada in the background.
The historic loan is one of several works that will be visiting the Queen’s House in February 2020 as part of Woburn Treasures, a major collaboration between Woburn Abbey and the Queen’s House.
The collaboration will see a selection of artworks from the private collection of The Duke and Duchess of Bedford by artists such as Van Dyck, Reynolds, Poussin and Canaletto on display alongside significant pieces from the collection of Royal Museums Greenwich.