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ELIZABETH I ARMADA PORTRAIT SAVED FOR THE NATION

An iconic portrait of Elizabeth I has been saved for the nation after 8000 members of the public helped raise £10 million to prevent it being sold abroad.

The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, painted by George Gower in 1588, was commissioned by and was the property of Sir Francis Drake.  The portrait was painted to commemorate the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588, and is one of the most famous images of British history. The painting remained in the Tyrwhitt-Drake family until recently, when Drake's descendants chose to sell it.

The Elizabeth I Armada Portrait

The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, by George Gower, 1588

Following an appeal from the Art Fund and Royal Museums Greenwich, the public contributed to saving the painting, raising £1.5 million.

This act of generosity led to a major grant from Heritage Lottery Fund, which donated £7.4 million to secure the work.  Contributions also came from the Linbury Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Headley Trust, bringing the final total raised to £10.3 million.

Sir Roy Strong, the historian, said: “Such an icon of England should not leave the country and for it to find its final resting place on the walls of the museum that celebrates our maritime heritage would seem only right and proper.”

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “This campaign has been a triumph of popular will.”

Elizabeth I Armada Portrait

The painting will go on display in Greenwich Palace on 11 October 2016

The painting is now property of the public for the first time in its 425-year history.  It will go on display at the Queen's House, on the site of the birthplace of Elizabeth I at the original Greenwich Palace, when it reopens in October following major restoration works, and before undergoing conservation in 2017.