at home: Art in Context | Dress and Jewelry in Portraits of the Elizabethan Period

at home: Art in Context

Art in Context, the Center's gallery talk series, is now online. Presented by faculty, staff, visiting scholars, and student guides, these lectures are held on the last Tuesday of each month during the academic year. Each talk focuses on a particular work of art in the Center's collections or a special exhibition, and takes an in-depth look at its style, subject matter, technique, or time period.

About this program

This talk discusses the material realities and symbolic significance of elite female dress in the Elizabethan period through an examination of some of the Center’s earliest portraits. Approaching the dressed body as a meaningful tool of communication, Jemma Field explores how clothing and jewelry signaled categories of identity such as political allegiance, financial power, and social status. Attention is also given to the relative cost of raw materials in the period, the complex process of getting dressed, and the sensory elements (for the eyes, nose, and ears) that were carefully considered in every outfit.

About Jemma Field

Field is the Associate Director of Research at the Yale Center for British Art. She received her PhD from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in 2015, and was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Brunel University London from 2016 to 2018. She has published many articles and book chapters on early modern court culture and female patronage, and her monograph, Anna of Denmark: The Material and Visual Culture of the Stuart Courts, 1589-1619, was published by Manchester University Press in 2020. Her current research examines the relationship between the English court and London’s mercantile and artisanal communities.

A recording of this program will be made available online. Please check back here soon.

Top image
Unknown artist, sixteenth century, formerly Steven van der Meulen, Portrait of a Young Woman (detail), 1567, oil on panel, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

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