Sunday, August 28, 2011

Elizabeth I - Obsession With Beauty

Queen Elizabeth I was without doubt a powerful woman. However, she seemed to be a little too obsessed about how she looked like, especially how people perceived her. She wore a lot of makeup and because lead was often used in makeup in those times her face was not in its best shape. It is known that all of her portraits contained symbolic items and she is often portrayed with elements that show purity and goodness, such as pearls or moons. 

Apparently she was looking for a painter to portray her with timeless beauty so that others can copy it for future paintings. 
This is the main reason why almost all her last paintings look pretty much the same. She had a lot of reasons to hide the way she looked as it was very important to be seen beautiful, powerful and young. Unfortunately she suffered from smallpox in 1562 which only made her face more scarred. She was covering that with lead makeup which only made things worse. She also had black teeth thanks to the big amount of sugar eaten in those days. It seems that even her speech was difficult to understand because of her missing teeth. Her hair was also beginning to thin so she had to wear a big red wig. Her nose was hooked and this can also be seen in her portraits so it was probably worse in reality. 

Although her beauty when she was young cannot be disputed, this is how she looked during her last years of her life, contrary to all the portraits done in that period. It is thought that this portrait was painted in 1580 by Joost de Hondt. 


  1. This was not known to me, fascinating piece of history!

  2. Thanks Fountain of Youth, I'm glad you took the time to read my post :D

  3. hi andreea. this news is a real big surprise, never knew this side of Queen Elizabeth.
    these days, obsession in beauty is easier to handle with the use plastics and surgery etc-
    we are lucky to live in an era where there is a solution to dental problems.
    i did send you an email a few days ago and awaiting for your reply. anyway, can you please email me your write up and photos to me at:
    thanks andreea, looking forward to publish them as my next post. have a nice day :)