Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A Curious Portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh Scatter Shot with a Thousand Pearls

This is my favorite Elizabethan portrait by William Segar. Painted in 1598, Sir Walter Raleigh displays himself bedecked in pearls in a post-Cadiz victory portrait.  The convoluted multi-layer ruff collar is typical of 1590-1620's. We can see the death of the peascod doublet here as the belly has returned to normal with no padded bulge. The trunk hose is still padded but short (called a "mini bum roll") and attached to canions. The bejeweled buttons on his pearl-laden jerkin are unique. He wears a wavy hem, not a ruffle, of transparent linen at the wrist, which is also unusual for this time. There must be a thousand pearls adorning this man. Raleigh had adopted the pearl as his personal symbol. It was also one of Elizabeth's symbols. A pretty amazing portrait.

Click here to see larger image (it's well worth it).
Above: Portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh by William Segar (National Portrait Gallery of Ireland (image via wikicommons)

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