Object Descriptions Tower House Parlor

Portrait of Edmund Spenser

This portrait of a middle-aged man is modeled loosely on that painted by Benjamin Wilson in 1770, long after Spenser’s death, which was based on an engraving made in 1727 by George Vertue of a supposed portrait of Edmund Spenser in the collection of John Guise. The sitter’s dress would suit Spenser’s relatively modest means. Spenser was described in his time as having short-cut hair.

No authoritative likeness of Spenser is known to exist.  This portrait and the one next to it, a hypothetical one of Spenser’s second wife, Elizabeth Boyle, are presented as if they formed a pair and were commissioned for their wedding day in 1594.

Further description of the recreated portrait (by Joyce Joines Newman) can be found here.

Portrait of Edmund Spenser


Andrew Hadfield, Edmund Spenser:  A Life (Oxford:  Oxford UP, 2012): 413-8.

Tarnya Cooper and Andrew Hadfield, “Edmund Spenser and Eizabethan Portraiture.“ Renaissance Studies 27.3 (June 2013), 18-21.