Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the World of Elizabethan Art Painting and Patronage at the Court of Elizabeth I Elizabeth Goldring

Publication date:
30 Oct 2014
Paul Mellon Centre
380 pages: 254 x 190mm
100 color + 111 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Winner of the 2015 Roland H. Bainton Prize for Art History
This book is the first comprehensive survey of aristocratic art collecting and patronage in Elizabethan England, as seen through the activities of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (ca. 1532--1588). One of the most fascinating and controversial people of his day, Leicester was also the most important patron of painters at the Elizabethan court. He amassed a substantial art collection, including commissioned works by Nicholas Hilliard, Paolo Veronese, and Federico Zuccaro; helped foster the birth of an English vernacular discourse on the visual arts; and was an early exponent, in England, of the Italian Renaissance view of the painter as the practitioner of a liberal art and, thus, fit company for the educated and well-born. Although Leicester's picture collection and personal papers were widely dispersed after his death, this volume's pioneering research reconstructs his lost world and, with it, a turning point in the history of British art. Some of the paintings featured here are little-known images from private collections, never before reproduced in color.

More about this title

For a Guardian article on this book, please click here.

Elizabeth Goldring is an associate fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick.

‘Beautifully produced study of the patronage of Elizabeth I’s favourite ... sets his collecting and architectural patronage in the context of Dudley’s remarkable career’.  – John Goodall, Country Life

'A landmark publication, which will become essential reading for anyone interested in the collecting of art at the Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline courts . . . Congratulations are due not only to the author herself but also to Yale University Press for producing such a handsome, lavishly-illustrated publication. This impressive and beautifully presented book, in short, deserves to reach the widest possible readership.’ – Robert Hill, Journal of the History of Collections

‘Elizabeth Goldring’s fascinating study restores courtier Robert Dudley’s reputation as an important patron, collector and cultural pundit. With its pioneering archival research and its lavish illustrations – many of previously unpublished images – this book will appeal to scholars of Elizabethan culture and interested amateurs alike.’ – Katie Campbell, Cassone: The International Online Magazine of Art and Art Books

‘Well-written and sharply focused, this book is a model of scholarship on the Elizabethan Renaissance. ... Highly recommended.’ – W. S. Rodner, Choice

‘Richly documented and well-illustrated ... a timely contribution to our knowledge of art collecting and display in early modern England. By tracing and analysing the archival documentation, Goldring has also deepened our understanding of the perception and usage of art during the very early development of the English Great House.’ – Andrea Galdy, Sehepunkte