The Conservation of the ‘Phoenix’ Portrait of Elizabeth I

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The 'Phoenix' portrait of Elizabeth I is so-called because of the prominent phoenix jewel that the Queen wears at her chest, an emblem for rebirth and chastity. The portrait is associated with the artist Nicholas Hilliard because of the similarity of the facial pattern to a miniature painted in 1572 and in the controlled way in which the paint has been handled. It is evident that the position of the face was moved during the painting process, and a second set of features can be seen very faintly beneath the surface. In this film, Sophie Plender explains the process of conserving the portrait, which was supported by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Project. The film was produced by Black Barn Media for the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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