Painter Federico Zuccaro was born in 1539/40 at Sant’Angelo in Vado, Marche, son of the painter Ottaviano Zuccaro. Having worked in Rome, Venice, and Florence, Zuccaro moved to Antwerp in December 1574. From there he crossed to London, where he was introduced into the circle of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and, consequently, to the court of Elizabeth I, where he remained from March to August 1575.
Portraits of them have not survived, but both sitters are rendered in autograph red and black chalk studies which are held in the collection of the British Museum (BM). The original paintings were intended to be displayed at the great festival at Kenilworth Castle in July 1575, an event that would celebrate the Earl of Leicester’s final bid for the Queen’s hand. The sketch of Elizabeth has been described as probably her closest likeness. Whilst in England, Zuccaro also painted Mary, Queen of Scots, Nicholas Bacon, Francis Walsingham, and Lord High Admiral Charles Howard. He returned to Florence in 1575 and from there to Rome. He died in July 1609. Zuccaro was a successful pan-Continental artist employed by popes, cardinals, and kings in Italy, Spain, England, and France.