A fine and important enamel portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (1533 - 1603), The Rainbow Portrait <BR />Henry Bone, R.A. (British, 1755-1834)<BR />dated May 1815
Lot 1058
A fine and important enamel portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (1533 - 1603), The Rainbow Portrait
Henry Bone, R.A. (British, 1755-1834)
dated May 1815
Sold for US$ 128,500 inc. premium
Lot Details
Property from the estate of Mrs. T. Charlton Henry (1886 - 1978), Philadelphia
A fine and important enamel portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (1533 - 1603), The Rainbow Portrait
Henry Bone, R.A. (British, 1755-1834)
dated May 1815
Depicting standing before an archway spectacularly attired and adorned with ropes of pearls and jewels, the cloak decorated with eyes and ears implying that the Queen sees and hears all, a green jeweled serpent on one sleeve denoting wisdom and one hand resting on a rainbow beneath the motto NON SINE SOLE IRIS (No rainbow without the sun), signed lower right HBone 1815, reverse inscribed:
Queen Elizabeth
Born Sep.tr – 8th – 1533
Began to Reign Nov.r 17th - 1558
Died April 3rd – 1603
London May – 1815
Painted by Henry Bone R.A.
Enamel painter in Ordinary to His Majesty.
and Enamel painter to His Royal Highness
the Prince Regent, after the Original by
Zucchero in the Collection of the Most
Noble the Marquis of Salisbury, Hatfield=
=House, Herts. -
dimensions 9 1/4 x 7 1/2in (23.5 x 19cm)


  • Provenance:
    Mrs. T. Charlton Henry (Julia Rush Biddle) (1886-1978) of the Philadelphia Biddle's was a socialite and museum benefactor who split her time between Philadelphia and Switzerland. She was noted in 1968 Life magazine as one of the "Grande Dames Who Grace America" and described as a A lover of fine clothes and a devoted walker, she is trim and doll-like and has been named to the Best-Dressed Hall of Fame. Later in life she became an avid jogger and was dubbed the 'Aristocratic Grande Dame of Jogging'

    Her 1965 portrait by Diane Arbus (1923-1971), currently in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001.399, was first published in Harper's Bazaar. The accompanying text describes Mrs. T. Charlton Henry as weighing a fragile, feminine ninety pounds, but moves through life like Trojan.

    By all accounts, Mrs. T. Charlton Henry was an influential and fashionable woman; therefore, one can easily imagine how she was attracted to this portrait of the mighty Queen adorned in a highly elaborate and symbolic gown.

    Once attributed to Taddeo Zuccero (1529 - 1566), the Rainbow Portrait is now attributed Isaac Oliver (c.1565 - 1617). Oliver was best known for his portrait miniatures depicting many of luminaries of the Elizabethan age.

    The original Rainbow portrait, circa 1600, is in the collection of the Marquess of Salisbury at Hatfield House.

    Henry Bone, (enameler of the offered lot), was born in Truro, the son of a successful cabinet-maker. He apprenticed as a china-painter to William Cookworthy and then to Richard Champion of Bristol. After the failure of the later factory, he began exhibiting enamels at the Royal Academy. He was recognized, then as today, as a successful miniaturist of portraits and copies after old master paintings; many of them produced in a large size not seen before.

    In 1800 he was appointed Enamel Painter to George III and subsequently to George IV and William IV and in 1811 was elected a Royal Academian (RA). He proudly incorporated these references in the lengthy inscriptions on the backs of his miniatures, as seen in these two offered lots.

    Bone's largest series of works comprised approximately eighty-five historical portraits from the time of Elizabeth I, and it is probable that the offered enamels were of this series. Unfortunately, despite the masterful quality, the Elizabethan collection did not prove a financial success, and many were sold at auction after his death in 1834.
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