Portrait of Elizabeth I in Roanoke gift shop may be the real deal

Until recently, an oil painting of Queen Elizabeth I had been hanging, unprotected and barely noticed, in the gift shop at The Elizabethan Gardens gatehouse.

It is believed that the portrait was painted in 1592, when Elizabeth would have been about 60 years old. It is one of the few portraits of the queen in her declining years.

If it is authentic, it could be worth millions.

“Since we do not have full documentation on the provenance of the portrait, there will need to be fuller examination of the portrait, its paints, its underneath surface, and other data that can be gleaned from careful analysis,” East Carolina University history professor Larry Tise said in an e-mail.

The Elizabethan Gardens, founded and supported by the Garden Club of North Carolina, opened in 1960 as a tribute to the 1584- 87 English voyagers who came to Roanoke Island. The final voyage was the ill-fated Lost Colony – 117 men, women and children last seen in August 1587.

Horace Whitfield, the gardens’ executive director, said that the portrait, along with various antiques, was acquired at a New York auction house in the 1950s by Mrs. Charles Cannon, one of the gardens’ first benefactors. It has recently been returned by the North Carolina Museum of History, where it had been on loan for an exhibit about The Lost Colony.

Full article (with picture)

I first saw this article come through my news alerts a couple of weeks ago, but I was hoping some more information would show up. Unfortunately all of the articles since then have just been quoting the first one. But, if and when anything else turns up, I’ll be sure to update!


  1. Eeek! I’ve been there and seen that! Makes you wonder what other undiscovered treasures are out there.

  2. No kidding! I still can’t help but wonder what might be hidden in some of the great houses in Britain… Although the fact that this one ended up in North Carolina is interesting!

  3. I have worked at the Elizabethan Gardens and nearby Lost Colony for years and years. I have walked by that portrait countless times, and to think that it might actually be Elizabeth is mind-blowing! It’s even more astonishing that decades of salty air and humidity (it IS on a small island, you know) haven’t destroyed a centuries-old piece of art. Rest assured, the queen has been removed and protected, and has been replaced with a replica of a Sir Walter Raleigh portrait.


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