George Gower

George Gower

George Gower, (born c. 1540 - died London 1596) was an English portrait painter who became Serjeant Painter to Queen Elizabeth I in 1581.


Little is known about his early life except that he was a grandson of Sir John Gower of Stettenham, Yorkshire.Hearn, Karen, ed. "Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630", p. 107]

His earliest documented works are the two 1573 companion portraits of Sir Thomas Kytson and his wife Lady Kytson, now in the Tate Gallery in London.

Gower painted a self-portrait in 1579 (right) that shows his coat of arms and his artist's tools of his trade. An allegorical device shows a balance with an artist's dividers outweighing the family coat of arms, "a startling claim in England where a painter was still viewed as little more than an artisan."

Gower was appointed to the position of Serjeant Painter to Queen Elizabeth in 1581. This allowed him to paint most of England’s aristocracy. The post also made him responsible for painted decoration at the royal residences, and on coaches and furniture. Among his works were a fountain (now destroyed) and the astronomical clock, both at Hampton Court Palace. He also inspected portraits of the Queen by other artists prior to their official release.

Gower's best-known work is the version of the "Armada Portrait" of Elizabeth now at Woburn Abbey, painted to commemorate the 1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada. (A cut down version of this painting in the National Portrait Gallery (United Kingdom) is attributed to Gower; the "Drake" version is by a different hand. [Hearn, p. 43; Strong 1969] )

ee also

*Artists of the Tudor court
*Serjeant Painter



* [ Biography of George Gower] The National Maritime Museum Art Gallery. Accessed October 2007
* [ Gower, George] at the Union List of Artists Names, The J. Paul Getty Trust. Accessed October 2007
* [ Portraits by Gower] at the Tate Britain Gallery in London. Accessed October 2007
*Hearn, Karen, ed. "Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630." New York: Rizzoli, 1995. ISBN 0-8478-1940-X.
*Strong, Roy: "The English Icon: Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture", 1969, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (Strong 1969)
*Strong, Roy: "Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I", Thames and Hudson, 1987, ISBN 0500250987 (Strong 1987)

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