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Sir Francis Drake (1540-96).Sir Francis Drake (1540-96).
Sir Francis Drake (1540-96).

© National Maritime Museum, London

Repro ID: BHC2662
Title: Sir Francis Drake (1540-96).
Description: A three-quarter length portrait slightly to the left, dressed in black, wearing leather gloves and the Drake pendant with enamel, rubies and drop pearl, at waist level on a ribbon from his neck. To the left is a table covered in green velvet with a globe and above a coat of arms. Drake was the second man to circumnavigate the world from 1577-80. Drake is portrayed with an array of accessories denoting his fame and achievements. The sword refers to his service to his country, the globe to his circumnavigation of the world, and the 'Drake pendant' and coat of arms both reveal his prominent social and economic status. From relatively humble beginnings and early experience at sea with John Lovell and his cousin John Hawkins, Drake pursued an outstandingly successful career as a privateer. His voyage round the world was underwritten by Queen Elizabeth I and involved a series of highly profitable raids on Spanish ships and ports. He netted £160,000 for the Treasury, a healthy additional percentage for himself and a knighthood. The Queen knighted Drake at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Deptford in 1581. His privateering adventures in the West Indies, 1585-86, was followed by his daring raid on Cadiz in 1587 when he successfully attacked the Spanish fleet which was being prepared for the invasion of England, and captured the 'San Filipe' on his way home. In the Armada campaign, Drake was a vice-admiral with his own force of 39 ships. Subsequently, his joint leadership of the disastrous Portuguese expedition in 1589 brought him to court-martial and temporary disfavour until 1594. After the defeat of the Armada he commanded a number of expeditions against the Spanish, both in Europe and America. Another version of this portrait, formerly at Buckland Abbey, dates from that year, and this painting may be a copy of an earlier lost portrait.
Creator: Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
Date: 1591
Credit line: National Maritime Museum, London


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