Sinead Fitzgibbon Reviews the National Portrait Gallery’s Latest Exhibition
Elizabeth I and Her People provides a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with some of most influential people of the Elizabethan period. It features some of the most well-known portraits of the period – of Elizabeth herself, Walter Rayleigh, Bess of Hardwick, Thomas Gresham, John Donne, among many others.
The exhibition does not, however, rely solely on portraiture – expertly curated by Dr Tarnya Cooper, it strikes a perfect balance between art and objects. It gives equal weight to some fascinating paraphernalia of the era, including drawing instruments, thimbles, exquisite jewellery, a carved ivory comb. The highlight for me was a tar-splattered sea-man’s smock and baggy breeches – the mere sight of which transported me to the windswept, wooden decks of Rayleigh and Drake’s ships as they made their way across the seas into the great unknown.
The only negative was the fact that, in the section on Elizabethan writers, there wasn’t a mention of Shakespeare or Marlowe – a glaring omission in my view.
10 October 2013 – 5 January 2014, National Portrait Gallery, London
Gift Aid ticket prices (includes voluntary Gift Aid donation of 10% above standard price): Adult £13.50, Concs £12.50/£11.50 (Standard ticket prices: Adult £12.50, Concs £11.30 / £10.40) www.npg.org.uk