2019 Student Research Conference:
32nd Annual Student Research Conference

Fashioning an Empire: The Portraits of Elizabeth I and Victoria


Kiley R. Brannon
Dr. Heidi Cook and Dr. Sara Orel, Faculty Mentors

By controlling the circulation and production of their royal portraits, Queens Elizabeth I and Victoria presented carefully curated projections of vitality and authority. The highly stylized, and often artificial, court-dictated aesthetics of the English crown bled into its territories and shaped the only image those in distant regions had of their mother-state. My presentation will focus on how the self-fashioning by Elizabeth I and Victoria, as seen through their official portraits, aided in promoting the imperial agenda of the English monarchy. Focusing primarily on cosmetic use and preference, the crux of my argument lies in the subversion of the native aesthetic preferences of the regions colonized by the monarchy in the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries in favor of an Anglo-Saxon ideal. Through Elizabeth’s portrayal as the true, divine sovereign of England and Victoria’s image as the mother of the Empire, the Queens cultivated and inspired allegiance to the crown that was based, in large part, on politically-driven constructed realities.

Keywords: imperialism, portraiture, victoria, elizabeth, England, fashion

Topic(s):Art - Art History

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 109-2
Location: MC 210
Time: 8:45

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