Exhibition now closed
Three portraits, one historic exhibition: don't miss your last chance to see the Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I for free at the Queen’s House in Greenwich.
The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I is one of the most iconic portraits in British history.
Three versions of the painting survive, each offering a subtly different depiction of Queen Elizabeth I at the height of her power.
Now, for the first time in their 430-year history, these three works are on public display together.
Witness history being made at the Queen’s House Art Gallery.
This exhibition has now ended
The Armada Portrait was painted to commemorate the most famous conflict in Elizabeth I’s reign: the failed attempt by the Spanish Armada to invade England in 1588.
This free exhibition brings together the three surviving versions of the historic painting.
Royal Museums Greenwich will showcase its own version of the Armada Portrait alongside the two other works: one from the National Portrait Gallery, the other from the world famous private art collection at Woburn Abbey.
Faces of a Queen gives visitors a once-in-a-generation chance to see three of the greatest depictions of Elizabeth I together.
The exhibition is free, but you must have a ticket for the Queen's House to enter. Book online in advance to avoid disappointment.
Pre-booked tickets ensure that visits are spread out throughout the day, and that sites don’t exceed their capacity. There is no limit to the time you can spend inside once you're here.
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As restrictions in England ease, we want to ensure that all our visitors, staff and volunteers still feel safe and comfortable when exploring our sites.
Many of our COVID-19 safety measures will remain in place, including enhanced cleaning, safe distancing and ticketed entry. We highly recommend wearing a face covering at all indoor venues and enclosed spaces.
We hope you will support us in these measures.
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Please note that due to the delicate nature of some of the displays, visitors are not permitted to wear backpacks or carry large bags while in the galleries. Lockers are available at the entrance to the House.
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All three surviving versions are believed to have been made shortly after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, each by different artists or studios.
While the three paintings share the same essential pattern, each work contains subtle differences that hint at their unique histories. Tap the arrows to learn more.
The Royal Museums Greenwich Armada Portrait, which was previously owned by descendants of Sir Francis Drake, was saved for the nation in 2016 as the result of a major public appeal.
Once acquired, the portrait underwent complex conservation work in which several layers of old varnish were removed, more fully revealing the painting’s intricate detail and vibrant colours.
The Woburn Abbey portrait remains the only version of the three that maintains the complete seascapes as they were painted in the 16th century. The portrait is owned by the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, and has been in the family for centuries.
The National Portrait Gallery painting has been in public ownership since 1765. Unlike the two other portraits, this work has been cut down, truncating the seascapes in the background and resulting in a more vertical format. Both the date of when this alteration occurred and the reasons behind it remain a mystery.