1584 (or earlier) Obverse side of the Great Seal of Ireland by Nicholas Hilliard (British Museum)

The British Museum's notes for this follow:  "This is a detailed design for the principal side (the obverse) of the Great Seal of Ireland. To either side of the Queen are two shields. On the left is the design of an Irish harp adopted by Henry VIII as the official arms of Ireland. On the right are three crowns which represent England, France and Ireland. Around the circumference are the faint Latin words: ELISABET D[EO] G[RATIAS] ANGLIE FRA[NCIAE] ET HIBERNIE REGINA ('Elizabeth, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland').*

The Queen herself appears young, as, indeed she did in nearly all painted images of her right up to her death. Crowned, she holds the orb and sceptre and Tudor roses, symbols of her family, appear to her right and left and at the foot of her throne. Two heavenly arms, with robes trimmed with fur, emerge from clouds to hold up Elizabeth's own ermine robes.*

Hilliard (1547-1619) was an English artist who specialized in painting miniatures of members of the Tudor (Elizabeth I) and early Stuart (James I) courts. He had a large workshop which designed jewellery, woodcuts, portraits, decorative paintings and miniatures. The emphatic outlines guided the engraver or metal-worker who would cast the seal in silver. This design, however, was not used. The Seal itself was kept in a burse (elaborate purse) by the Lord Chancellor. A fine Elizabethan example of a burse, which contained a Seal, is now in The British Museum."

The detail in Hilliard's 1584 design for the Great Seal of Ireland is impressive.

The width of the top of her skirt suggests that she wears a French farthingale.

Keywords:  1584, Hilliard, Queen Elizabeth Tudor, Tudor family, English, Queen, high neckline, neckline ruff, lace, crown, regalia, carcanet necklace, necklace, girdle, robes, French farthingale, deep vee waistline, cuffs, fur

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