London – Westminster – Tate Britain (Captain Thomas Lee by Marcus Gheeraerts)

I like the sign to the left of this painting by Marcus Gheeraerts (1561/2-1636) which reads “what would you wear in a photo if you really wanted to impress someone?” as this certainly looks like some sort of dare. But, it’s not, it’s very serious and it was the uniform of an Irish soldier, who kept their legs bare for reasons that I’m not sure that I can understand (but is probably related to the need to fight in Irish bogs). The embroidered top isn’t quite part of the uniform, that’s just an indication of how wealthy Captain Thomas Lee (1551-1601) was. The painting is also seen as an attempt by Lee to impress Queen Elizabeth I, although his life plan didn’t quite work out as he was executed at Tyburn in 1601 and the Queen didn’t stop it.

The artwork was painted in 1594, which was the prime of the artist’s career as he fell a little out of favour after this. The museum holds a few paintings by Gheeraerts, but I’d say that this one is the most spectacular looking and the gallery was able to acquire this painting in 1980.