A full-length portrait to the right wearing Garter robes and a gold-embroidered skull-cap. His right hand rests on the top of his stick. Behind him and to the left is a green velvet curtain. On the right, a corner of a table is covered with a red Turkish rug on which a black hat with a white plume and a circlet of jewels has been placed. Beyond is a representation of the English fleet in action against the Spanish Armada, the campaign on which Howard's fame largely rests and in which he flew his flag in the 'Ark Royal'. This ship is probably included but is now hard to see.
Howard was appointed Lord High Admiral in 1585 on the death of the Earl of Lincoln and in December 1587 was designated 'lieutenant-general and commander-in-chief of the navy prepared to the seas against Spain'. This portrait was painted shortly after he had retired from active service in 1618 and it is a fine example of the style of formal full-length portraiture for which the artist, a Netherlandish painter working in England, became renowned.
Mytens, a member of a dynasty of painters, introduced a new elegance and grandeur to English portraiture, especially in full-lengths. The picture has been enlarged on the top and right-hand sides. The portrait was originally in the collection of Charles I and was presented to Greenwich Hospital in 1825 by George IV. At that time it was suggested to be by Federico Zucchero but had lost that attribution by the time it was lent to the National Portrait Exhibition at South Kensington in 1866. Authorship remained uncertain until reascribed to Mytens in the twentieth century. It bears a Latin inscription in the bottom left corner, perhaps added later in the seventeenth century: 'Carolus Baro. Howard de Effingham, Comes Nottingham, summus Angliae Admirallus – Ductor Classium 1588 – Obijt anno 1624. Aetat. 88' (Charles, Baron Howard of Effingham, Earl of Nottingham, High Admiral of England, Leader of the Fleet in 1588. He died in 1624, aged 88).
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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