The Folger's original collection centered on Shakespeare and English drama of his age. It consisted of rare books and manuscripts from the period as well as more recent writings, art, and ephemera related to Shakespeare and English drama. The latter category included prints, photographs, playbills, promptbooks, paintings, and reference books of many kinds.
Completed by George Gower in 1579, this work is part of a series of portraits of Elizabeth I in which she holds a sieve to symbolize her chastity. It is the earliest of the "sieve" portraits, and the oldest painting in the Folger Collection.
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