Up Close: The Plimpton “Sieve” portrait of Queen Elizabeth I

This portrait of Queen Elizabeth I is heavy with symbolism, from the gold sieve held in her left hand to the globe hovering over her right shoulder. Zoom in on these details and learn more about the layered meanings captured in this painting, the oldest in the Folger collection.

Court painter George Gower completed this portrait in 1579, about 20 years into her reign. Do Elizabeth’s pose and her clothing seem familiar? They are modeled on the Darnley Portrait.

Get an up-close look at the painting and learn more about it by clicking through the arrows to see captions that zoom in on different parts of the image. Click the eye icon to hide or display the text.

This portrait is called the Plimpton “sieve” portrait after a previous owner. Francis T. P. Plimpton inherited it from his father, publisher George Arthur Plimpton, and bequeathed the work to the Folger. Learn more about the painting on Folgerpedia.

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