Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the World of Elizabethan Art

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Painting and Patronage at the Court of Elizabeth I

Elizabeth Goldring

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

'This beautifully produced study of the patronage of Elizabeth I’s favourite is published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. It’s a specialist work that 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 With its pioneering archival research and its lavish illustrations – many of previously unpublished images – this book will appeal to scholars of Elizabethan culture and interested amateurs alike.’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

‘Goldring’s excellent book provides much material for future scholars and makes a useful, important and timely contribution to the expanding study of the history of patronage and the appreciation of visual culture in Elizabethan England.’—Tarnya Cooper, Burlington.

"Authoritative ... this is the finest case study of an Elizabethan patron of the visual arts which we have"—David Howarth, Journal of the Northern Renaissance

"A pleasure to read ... Elizabeth Goldring presents her meticulous research lucidly and carefully, with thought and nuance. ... essential reading for anyone with a strong interest in Elizabethan politics and portraiture"—Susan Doran, The Journal of British Studies

"Elizabeth Goldring has achieved a remarkable feat here of restoring the Earl of Leicester to the position he once occupied as the Maecenas of the Elizabethan court. Yale has done an outstanding job of illustrating this volume, which is an excellent example of the book-maker’s art." – Graham Parry, The Sidney Journal

“The end result is an engaging, thought-provoking book on Robert Dudley and his world as seen through art and architecture.”—Maria Hayward, Renaissance Quarterly

Winner of the Roland H. Bainton Prize for Art History, given by the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference.
ISBN: 9780300192247
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
380 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
100 color + 111 b/w illus.
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