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In other paintings she holds or wears a red rose, symbol of the Tudor Dynasty's descent from the House of Lancaster, or white roses, symbols of the House of York and of maidenly chastity.

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Later portraits of Elizabeth layer the iconography of empire—globes, crowns, swords and columns—and representations of virginity and purity—such as moons and pearls—with classical allusions to present a complex "story" that conveyed to Elizabethan era viewers the majesty and significance of their Virgin Queen.

Two portraiture traditions had arisen in the Tudor court since the days of Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII.

George Gower, a fashionable court portraitist created Serjeant Painter in 1581, was responsible for approving all portraits of the queen created by other artists from that date until his death in 1596.

Portraits were commissioned by the government as gifts to foreign monarchs and to show to prospective suitors.

The studios of Tudor artists produced images of Elizabeth working from approved "face patterns" or drawings of the queen to meet this growing demand for her image, an important symbol of loyalty and reverence for the crown in times of turbulence.