Queen Elizabeth I as Diana and Pope Gregory XIII as Callisto
Power and Propaganda
King Philip II’s reign was dominated by religious struggles. His own eagerness to revitalize Catholicism in England through his marriage to Queen Mary had faltered due to her early death. With Queen Elizabeth I now on the English throne, the Protestant Dutch sought her support in their quarrels with Philip, and the two countries were also united in their anti-Catholic view of the Pope as the Antichrist. The tensions across Europe were humorously captured in a print by the Dutch engraver Pieter van der Heyden. Using Titian’s Diana and Callisto as a model, the Pope appears in the role of the fallen Callisto, while Queen Elizabeth stands in as the all-powerful Diana accompanied by the ‘nymphs’ of the Dutch Provinces. Sporting Callisto’s swollen stomach, the Pope sits on a ‘nest’ of ruinous eggs, symbolising destruction and corruption. Ironically, the composition of Philip’s painting has been used to ridicule his faith.
- Location British Museum
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