£10 million appeal to save Elizabeth I Armada portrait

An appeal has been launched to save one of three surviving versions of the Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.

The life-sized portrait is just one of three remaining versions of the famous depiction of Henry VIII’s daughter, Elizabeth, showing a triumphant Queen after the defeat of her brother-in-law Philip of Spain, who wanted to invade the British Isles in 1588.

The Armada Portrait shows a defining moment of Elizabeth I's reign (wikimedia commons)

The Armada Portrait shows a defining moment of Elizabeth I’s reign (wikimedia commons)

A total of £10 million is needed in order to save the painting, from around 1590; it is almost 450 years old and is considered a masterpiece of the English Renaissance

The Art Fund has already pledged £1m, while Royal Museums Greenwich have committed £400,000, meaning just over £8 million is still needed. A group of the Art Fund’s supporters, including private donors and charitable trusts, has pledged to match every public donation pound for pound.

If successful, the painting will be under public ownership in the National Collection, much like the treasures of the Royal Collection, which The Queen holds in trust. The Art Fund has said it will hang in the Queen’s House, near to the site of the original Greenwich Palace, the birthplace of Elizabeth I herself, should they be able to raise the funds.

Currently owned by descendants of Sir Francis Drake – who is thought to have commissioned the portrait for Elizabeth – it is one of three versions of the famous painting. The other two are on display at Woburn Abbey and the National Portrait Gallery.

If the £10 million is not raised, the painting will be sold on the open market and may therefore leave the UK – which would be a travesty for history and art lovers alike. The Art Fun, however, recently managed to raise £10m for Van Dyck’s self portrait for the National Portrait Gallery, and another £15.75m to save the Wedgwood Collection in 2014.

The Armada portrait was put on display at the National Maritime Museum yesterday. Should you wish to support the cause, see here.

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