THE ELIZABETHAN SEA

Erin Riddiford

Wind has formed the earth’s history, altering the future with each swirl of air. Entire landscapes have been shaped by it, important navel battles have been won or lost due to its whims, it has proved instrumental in shaping empires. It is no wonder that wind has come to represent divine beings in some cultures. One such example is the Protestant Wind said to have been sent by God to protect the English from the Catholic Spanish Armada during the summer of 1588. The 16th century was not the first nor the last time the Christian God was associated with powerful, life altering wind. One of the better-known representations of the victorious Protestant Wind is the National Maritime Museum’s Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I. The painting commemorates the English victory through three distinct climates and temporal periods in the two windows behind the Queen and in the space of the Queen herself. The air in her space appears to be unaffected by the crashing waters and sailing ships depicted in the open windows. This curious atmospheric divide between the space of the Queen and the space of the Armada events reveals the artist’s desire to represent her as a strong, formidable, and almost king-like, queen…PDF

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