Drake is illustrated holding a baton in one hand whilst the other rests on a helmet. On his left sleeve is tied the royal favour. The authenticity of the likeliness is enhanced by the inclusion of the mole on his nose. In the background are a hanging globe with a view of Plymouth Sound through the arch, the port to which he returned following his circumnavigation 1577-80 and the town for which he was Mayor from 1581-82.
Although undated, it is believed to date from about 1583. Firstly, the title above states that Drake was 43 years old at the time. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography place his birth in Crowndale, Devon, to February or March 1540. It also refers to his knighthood which occurred on the ‘Golden Hind in Deptford on 4 April 1581. Following this Drake adopted the coat of arms of his claimed relative and ancient Devon family of Bernard Drake. These included a wyvern or dragon, those illustrated in this portrait. However, the family refuted his use of them which is so noted in the Herald’s College in an entry on 20 June 1581. So Queen Elizabeth bestowed her own on him which were ‘a fesse wavy between two stares Argent’. Clearly it was an area of contention. Here both are shown in a quartered arms upper right, something which is noted that Drake adopted following the death of Sir Bernard Drake in 1586 quite openly.
The engraver of the plate is unidentified by generally believed to be the work of Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612). It is the work of a Dutch engraver based on the wording of the running title ‘Franciscus Draeck’. Hind had also posited Remigius Hogenberg (1536?-88?). The evidence supporting Hondius derives from a note on the verso of the British Museum example by George Vertue (1684-1756), the publisher of the second state, in which he mentions that he acquired the copper plate from a descendant in the Drake family. Hondius fled Holland from religious persecution in 1583 and returned around 1593. References published at the time identify Vertue as having retouched the plate for the second state found here.
State 1, c.1583
State 2, c.1740 The wall in the background and a portion of the globe now with darkened cross-hatching, the inscription below now appears as blank panel over a similarly hachured background.
There are only three known examples of the first state surviving: British Museum; Scheepvaart Museum, Amsterdam; Douwma Catalogue (1979) present whereabouts unknown. Provenance: Sotheby’s London 7 December 1993 lot 185, a five-volume composite ‘History of England’ by David Hume 1806 with 1,644 plates! It had the bookplate of Richard Henry Alexander Bennet. The prints were collected by the noted Richard Bull (1721-1805) whose daughter was Elizabeth Bull of North Court Manor, Isle of Wight (1749-1809). She left her books to R. H. Alexander Bennet of Beckenham, Kent. The lines round the sheets are typical of Richard Bull, who had put the collection together.
Robert Douwma (1979) Catalogue no. 22, items 33 & 34 for first and second states; Hind (1952) I pp. 159-60 item 3; Howgego (2003) D72-76; Jewers (UK Genealogy Archives online); Kraus (1970) p. 218; Shirley (2007) pp. 193-5; Wallis (1977) no. 24; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).