Portraits of Elizabeth I of England from 1546 - 1600.
Like most monarchs of her day, Elizabeth was careful that her portraits depicted her as she wanted to be seen: young, strong and like a man in a woman’s body, so that her people would respect her and accept her as their ruler. Many paintings of the queen in old age present an eternally youthful Elizabeth. She had full control over the distribution of images of herself. In fact, she rarely sat for portraits, so one sitting provided a ‘pattern’ that was then repeated in various forms. Because of this it is hard for us to get an idea of what she really looked like.
In her book “Elizabeth the Queen”, Alison Weir describes the 25 year old Elizabeth as: “tall and slender, with a tiny waist, small bosom and beautiful, long-fingered hands, which it pleased her vanity to display to advantage in a variety of affected poses. She had a swarthy complexion like that of her mother, although she made a habit of whitening it with a lotion made up of egg-whites, powdered egg shell, poppy seeds, borax and alum, which made her face appear white and luminous. She had inherited also Anne Boleyn’s long, thin face, high cheekbones and pointed chin. From her father she had her red naturally curly hair and high, hooked nose.”