il ritratto, non solo arte, ma rappresentazione di un periodo

Elizabeth I by N. Hilliard 

Portraiture (= ritrattistica)  has always been a very famous and important form of art in England, since the Renaissance. The Protestant Reformation had caused a declined interest in religious images and a stable monarchy with a powerful aristocracy made of landowners had provided forms of patronage (=  mecenatismo) . The portrait miniature increased (= aumentarono) and portraits were painted with large interiors as a backgrounds to give  the idea of familiar and political tranquillity.

Two ladies by Peter Lely 

Among the most distinguished portrait painters in Tudor times were Hans Holbein the Younger of Augsburg (1497-1543); Nicholas Hilliard (1547 –1619); Samuel Cooper (1608-1672); John Hoskins (died 1664), Anthony van Dyck (1599 –1641), and Peter Lely (1618 –1680). From all of them we can understand fashion and social behaviours (= comportamenti sociali)of the period.