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John de Critz, ca. 1550–1642

Sir Francis Walsingham (ca. 1532–1590)

ca. 1589
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on panel
36 x 29 inches (91.4 x 73.7 cm)

Inscribed in light yellow paint, upper left: "Sir Francis Walsingham | Sect. of State | Queen Elizabeths reign."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
beard | black | cap | chair | document | fur | fur | man | overcoat | paper | portrait | robe | ruff | table (support furniture) | Tudor
Associated People:
Walsingham, Sir Francis (c.1532–1590), principal secretary
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Sir Francis Walsingham was Queen Elizabeth’s Principal Secretary for nearly twenty years and ran a network of spies across Europe that was instrumental in exposing Catholic plots against the queen. The painter John de Critz may have been one of his agents in France and certainly carried letters to and from Paris for Walsingham in the 1580s. Although he was de Critz’s foremost patron, this is the only known portrait-type of Walsingham and survives in multiple versions. When it was painted, Walsingham was preoccupied with supporting the Protestant Dutch in their revolt against Catholic Spain, and the threat posed by Mary, the Catholic Queen of Scots, then imprisoned in England and whose downfall he finally engineered in 1586. He is dressed simply in dark clothing, his sober style reflecting his Puritan tastes, unlike the flamboyant style of his aristocratic political ally, the Earl of Leicester, whose portrait is shown nearby.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 72-73, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Lisa Ford, Allegory of the Tudor Succession: The Family of Henry VIII, , May 16, 2012, 6 minutes, 19 seconds, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp0mtLONkUk [Website]

Ian Tyers, The tree-ring analysis of 23 panel paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , New Haven : dendrochronological consultancy report 470, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2011, pp. 15, 16, 63-65, fig. 35, CC78.3 .T94 2011 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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