This book is the first comprehensive survey of aristocratic art collecting and patronage in Elizabethan England, as seen through the activities of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (ca. 1532-1588). One of the most fascinating and controversial people of his day, Leicester was also the most important patron of painters at the Elizabethan court. He amassed a substantial art collection, including commissioned works by Nicholas Hilliard, Paolo Veronese, and Federico Zuccaro; helped foster the birth of an English vernacular discourse on the visual arts; and was an early exponent, in England, of the Italian Renaissance view of the painter as the practitioner of a liberal art and, thus, fit company for the educated and well-born. Although Leicester's picture collection and personal papers were widely dispersed after his death, this volume's pioneering research reconstructs his lost world and, with it, a turning point in the history of British art. Some of the paintings featured here are little-known images from private collections, never before reproduced in color. 100 color + 111 b-w illus.