Interesting story on the symbolism in Elizabeth I portraits
Analysing the symbolism in the Armada Portrait
Pearls symbolise Elizabethís chastity and connect her to Cynthia, the Greek goddess of the Moon, who was a virgin and therefore seen as 'pure'.
Mermaids tempt sailors and then ruin them, so the inclusion of a mermaid here could show Elizabethís might against the Spanish seamen.
The Globe represents Englandís striving for imperial power in the Americas. In the painting, Elizabeth is pointing to Virginia, which was named after her.
Hair, ruff, and embroidery
The circle of ruff extends from Elizabethís face like the Sunís rays. She is shown as the centre and source of warmth, beauty, and goodness.
Black and white was Elizabethís key colour scheme and symbolise chastity and constancy.
In the Armada Portrait, Elizabeth faces toward the calm seas on her right and turns away from the stormy waters where the Spanish ships are floundering. She is positioned as a calm force for good, in contrast with the chaos of Catholic Europe.