Nicholas Hilliard: Portrait of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland (1590)

(National Maritime Museum, London, UK)

A painting made by the English artist Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619). This miniature (size of the painting is 25.2 x 17.5 cm) shows George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland (1558-1605). The painting was made to commemorate the appointment of George Clifford as champion of Queen Elizabeth I. The blued steel engraved with a gilded star armour of Clifford was made for him in Henry VIII's armoury at Greenwich Palace. On his plumed bonnet is the glove of Queen Elizabeth I pinned with a rose jewel with a pendant pearl. clifford revieved the mark in 1586 as a sign of her favour. The shield on his right is a displayshiled and was hung in the Whitehall 'Shield Gallery'. It consists of a blue field dotted with golden stars, a golden sun, a world globe and a golden Moon. On the shield the text 'Hasta Quando' ('a lance at any time') is written. This text implies the unconditional loyalty of Clifford to the Queen under whatever aspect of her favour. Clifford was made a Knight of the Garter in 1592 and was the leading Northern earl at Elizabeth's court. The role of King's/ Queen's champion was to defend the King or Queen at the coronation, in the (unlikely) event that someone challenged the new King's title to the throne (The King himself could not fight in single combat against anyone except an equal). The King's/ Queen's champion also acts as the Standard Bearer of England. Painting from 1590.

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