Tate Kids



Captain Thomas Lee mask Inspiration




Martin Gheeraerts II,'Portrait of Captain Thomas Lee', painted in 1594


Thomas Lee was a captain in Queen Elizabeth I’s colonial army in Ireland. He was suspected of being disloyal to the Queen and he visited London in 1594 to deny this and clear his name..

An inscription on the painting compares Thomas to a Roman citizen called Gaius Mucius Scaevola, who stayed true to Rome even when among its enemies. In this portrait, Thomas is making the point that he is loyal to Queen Elizabeth.

Thomas has been portrayed with bare legs to suggest the dress of an Irish soldier and of a Roman hero. He would normally have worn leggings known as ‘hose’.