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Portrait, once in NC gift shop, now in DC exhibit

Saturday - 3/2/2013, 11:20am  ET

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- For decades, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I hung in a small garden gift shop on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Legend had it the piece was rare because it depicted the monarch as an old woman. But some experts disagreed.

Eventually, in 2010, East Carolina University's conservator analyzed and dated the portrait to 1592, when Elizabeth was about 60 years old.

Now, the portrait has made its way to Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., for its first exhibit since a benefactor donated it to the Elizabethan Gardens in the 1950s.

The artist is unknown, although the painting has long been attributed to the school of Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger.

One expert says the portrait is one of maybe two large pieces that depicts Elizabeth as an older woman.

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