Friday, December 21, 2012

Popinjay, Fop, or Dandy: Richard Drake, Elizabethan Courtier, Making a Lewd Gesture

Here's Richard Drake, who once entertained the Queen, pointing at his dink.  Painting by John Gower.  1577.  National Maritime Museum, which, btw, is a fantastic museum.  Hat makes the dandy, I always say.  I think Hamlet once used the term popinjay to describe such a courtier.  Is this a popinjay?  (A type of parrot.)  Quite possibly it is.  Could be a fop, though.

Okay, Drake probably isn't pointing at his dink.  The fashionable Neoplatonist movement used a downward-pointing gesture to mean, "As below, so above."  It's the same gesture the 3rd Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare's patron, is making in his famous Tower portrait by de Critz (the one with Trixie the cross-eyed cat).  However 1577 is a bit early for such a gesture, Neoplatonism wasn't yet the rage in London, so maybe he is just pointing at his dink.  I mean, on some level, he had to know he was pointing at his dink, right?  It's curious.

And on that note here's the link to the museum website. 


  1. wouldn't the "dink hypothesis" go ever so nicely with his motto (always ready to serve) ;-) honni soit qui mal y pense! Nico

    1. Ha ha yes perhaps the gesture was in reference to said motto. I bet if you google "dink hypothesis" this is the only hit.