Big dresses, bad teeth and an aversion to marriage - just when you thought you knew everything about the 'Virgin Queen', history offers an extra glimpse into the Elizabethan world.

A previously unseen painting of Elizabeth I has emerged from the 'Golden Age'. The National Portrait Gallery in London has acquired a painting believed to be by the famous miniaturist Isaac Oliver, which is little more than the size of a postcard.

national portrait gallery elizabeth

The portrait is a reworking of the classical story of the Judgment of Paris upon the goddesses of marriage, war and love. In the guise of Paris, the Queen is represented as both judge and winner, retaining for herself the prize of the golden apple.

Elizabeth is shown in a dress of cloth-of-gold, wearing a diamond necklace and golden crown, with her wide ruff and jewelled headpiece, suggesting the fashions of the later 1580s or early 1590s.

National Portrait Gallery Chief Curator Dr Tarnya Cooper said: "Elizabeth’s rounded face and small features are usual, but it is meant to be a flattering portrait, showing the Queen as perpetually youthful.

"It is difficult to speculate about who this cabinet miniature might have been produced for – the provenance provides us with no further clues – but the small scale and remarkably high quality of this work indicate that it would have been painted for a patron close to the court."

The discovered art will go on show as part of the National Portrait Gallery's new exhibition Elizabeth I and Her People (10 October 2013 - 5 January 2014).

How might Queen Elizabeth dress if she were alive today? The Secret Lives Of television series on the Yesterday channel created modern digital portraits of historical figures - see the pictures below:

Loading Slideshow...
  • ELIZABETH I

    - A powerful no-nonsense female leader, Elizabeth might have straightened her hair in a powerful yet stylish short cropped style - Known for her love of fashion, she would be more likely to wear a bespoke stylish and unique female suit made with rich colours and material - Rarely pictured smiling, Queen Elizabeth exudes power in the modern day portrait, and hides her new veneers purchased to disguise her notoriously bad teeth

  • SHAKESPEARE

    - Daring and forward thinking hipster Shakespeare has been fashioned as a ‘modern day playwright’ with his edgy Shoreditch shirt and waistcoat look - He has been given piercings on both ears, leaving questions about his sexuality unanswered - An actor as well as a playwright, Shakespeare might have taken advantage of modern-day hair transplanting techniques to sport a full head of hair like numerous celebrity actors

  • MARIE ANTOINETTE

    - Her three-foot tall hair has been let down and her unusually high forehead concealed with a trendy fringe - Known for her crooked teeth in her youth she has been given a full modern-day orthodontic treatment - Teased for her small breasts as a teenager, she has been given breast implants - Known for being fashionable and changing clothes three times a day, Marie Antoinette is dressed in a modern designer dress. Reported to express how she was feeling through the accessories in her wig, she is wearing a flirty Philip Treacey style hat - Her modern day portrait also shows the her fully-made up in colourful make-up

  • ADMIRAL LORD NELSON

    - A Vice Admiral and dedicated navy officer Nelson is dressed in a modern naval uniform - In today’s Navy – Nelson would spend more time deskbound and as such he would have gained a little weight which is reflected in the portrait - To replace the right arm lost after being wounded in battle, he has been given a prosthetic to wear - The Victoria Cross wasn’t available during his time but had they been in existence, he would have qualified

  • HENRY VIII

    - Renowned for being vain and lavish, King Henry has been given white veneers and hair plugs to hide his balding head - Henry VIII, known to flaunt his wealth, is now out of his voluminous puffed sleeve velvet gown and in a tailored designer black suit, wearing a sparkling diamond ring and designer watch - Instead of the cotton shirt fastened up to the chin he now sports an unbuttoned shirt ‘Simon Cowell’ style and is very much the ‘modern day lady killer’ - An avid sportsman and known for being conceited he has been slimmed down. Henry’s vanity would have ensured he would have retained the naturally muscly, rugby-player type figure he had in his youth - Known for having spent a lot of time outdoors riding, hunting, and playing tennis, Henry VIII has also been given a tan - Henry VIII has exchanged his uncomfortable flat footed shoes for modern shoes with a heel