Elizabethan refers to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I from 1558 to 1603 which saw a flowering of the arts in Britain.
Although the plays of Shakespeare are perhaps the best known example of Elizabethan artistic production, painting – principally in the form of portraiture – also flourished during this period.
The Queen herself took a keen interest in her portraits, guiding artists such as Nicholas Hilliard and Marcus Gheeraerts II in the creation of stylised images of immense elegance, wealth and power. This artificial and decorative style became characteristic of Elizabethan painting in general.
Highly skilled artists often remained anonymous such as the artist who painted The Cholmondeley Ladies.