Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Priceless Queen Elizabeth I portrait examined at NC Elizabethan Gardens, Aug. 18

From The Elizabethan Gardens newsletter
Event: Aug 18 2013, 12- 2:00 p.m.

CNBC "Treasurer Hunters" declared Elizabeth I
portrait an original. Photo courtesy of
The Elizabethan Gardens; Ray Matthews, Photographer.
Artist unknown–but long attributed to the
school of Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (ca. 1561/62-1636).
Elizabeth I (1533-1603), oil on oak panels, ca. 1593.
Courtesy of The Elizabethan Gardens, Manteo, NC.) 
Since her taxing moments in the spotlight, involving travel, investigating and prodding the Queen has been resting safe and secure. But The Elizabethan Gardens portrait of Queen Elizabeth I is coming out of storage on August 18 for an up close viewing and discussion.

Purchased over fifty years ago by Ruth Coltrane Cannon a member of The Gardens Board of Governors, this rare depiction of Queen Elizabeth I has recently piqued the interests of historians, art collectors and an investigative prime-time reality program on CNBC called “Treasure Detectives.”
This investigative program determines if something is a fake, forgery or an authentic work. Which is exactly what art historians asked of The Elizabethan Gardens’ unpretentious Queen.

“She’s had a remarkable journey from obscurity to fame,” said Carl V. Curnutte Executive Director of The Gardens. He explained, “We bring her out on special occasions. And what is more special than the birthday celebration of Virginia Dare, the first child of English parentage born to colonists who lived here 426 years ago.”

At the casual lecture, attendees will learn the backstory of the portrait, how it made its way to North Carolina’s Outer Banks and what has become of her come fifty years since her arrival, including recent revelations.

The Elizabethan Gardens’ portrait shows an aging, graceful Queen – completely content with her wrinkles, instead of the youthful queen a court-approved artist would have painted. Royal censors of the day would have rejected the portrait and directed the artist to destroy it. Unless of course, the artist or the Queen Herself hid it from the public.

Ruth Coltrane Cannon, founding member and benefactor of The Gardens purchased the portrait in the 1950’s. Since that time, the portrait has been kept at The Gardens. Curnutte will present research on the remarkable portrait. And try to answer lingering questions about the Queen.

Is this an authentic portrait, dating back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I?
Since unflattering depictions of the Queen were banned during her lifetime, if this work is from the Queen’s era, how did it possibly survive?

Armed with photos and his personal account, Curnutte will take you behind the camera and revisit the filming of CNBC’s “Treasure Detectives” episode that propelled the portrait from obscurity to fame. Curnutte will explore circumstances of the 16th century, and consider what could have influenced an artist to paint such a true-to-life portrait. He will also dive into the contemporary research and technology used to determine the portrait’s age – with consideration of Dr. Larry Tise and the investigative team at East Carolina University that brought to light many details about the portrait.
After the lecture, the portrait returns to safe storage. But what does the future hold for this portrait at The Gardens?

Curnutte is asked this question a lot. But he teases, “You’ll have to come to the talk to hear the answer.”

Come see the Queen’s portrait, enjoy cookies, tea, and learn about the story behind the portraits adventurers in The Elizabethan Gardens’ Odom Hall on August 18 from Noon to 2pm. For more information, contact The Gardens at 252-473-3234 or

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