I’ve just written a post over at The Elizabeth Files entitled “Is Anne Boleyn’s Portrait Actually Elizabeth I” regarding the similarities between the National Portrait Gallery portrait of Anne Boleyn and the Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger portrait of Elizabeth I in her old age.

Obviously, we know that Elizabeth I had many of her mother’s features – dark eyes, face shape etc. – but the weird thing about these portraits is that they’re not just similar, they actually transpose one on top of the other and if you watch the following video you can see the two women morph into each other! Find out more in my article over at the Elizabeth Files and enjoy the video below:-

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23 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn Morphs into Elizabeth I”
  1. We know that until now no contemporary portrait of Anne has been found.Perhaps this was also a problem during Elizabeth’s reign).Many artists and nobles would think of it as a way to gain favour or pay respect to have a portrait of Anne…But the only likeness to Anne left was Elizabeth(and it was a form of flattery) so the artist may have used her face as Anne.Also the fact that the majority of Anne’s portrait show the same outfit and pose means there must have been an authentic one which was copied.I don’t think that the NPG is actually the most accurate because everytime I see it I see Elizabeth and we must not forget that although she resembled Anne,she also looked a lot like Henry,something she showed off in order to establish her heritage.I still hope though that one day a long forgotten portrait of Anne will emerge or that one of the now existing will be authenticated

  2. That’s really interesting! I’ve watched it over and over, each time concentrating on a different feature. Although I believe the portraits r based on the supposed sitters.

  3. Very nice article ,I think was has happened , is what happens a lot in families as one ages , you tend to look like the other parent .

  4. the only real painting of anne that was left after elizabeth’s reign was in her ring and it was badly worn to the point that no one truly knows what anne looks like.

  5. Oh wow, that’s a neat video. I do like the idea of the NPR being as close to a likeness of Anne as we can get (that’s how I picture her anyways) so I’m torn. If it was based on a portrait of Elizabeth, it was extremely well done. I have been told that I am a mirror copy of my mother which maybe what happened with Anne and Elizabeth, only with Elizabeth showing her father’s traits as well. If that makes any sense.

  6. I agree with the first comment … as no contemporary images of Anne were to be found during Elizabeth’s reign (or ever … yet!), it would be logical of the painter to use the daughter’s facial features to conclude what the mother looked like.

  7. I tend to believe that the NPG and the Hever portrait are picturing the same sitter: Anne. I agree with MeChelle that Elizabeth could have looked more and more like Anne as she grew older. And we all know they had the same eyes.

    The video is really interesting! Thank you for making it!

  8. Claire,

    In Tracy Borman’s book “Elizabeth’s Women”, there is a photo of a locket ring supposedly worn by Elizabeth I showing portraits of her and Anne Boleyn. Wouldn’t this be the most realistic likeness known of Anne since Elizabeth owned and wore it? Is there any history as to who painted this portrait of Anne Boleyn?

    1. The photos I have seen of Elizabeth’s locket ring from You tube, Tracy Borman, Eric Ives, Alison Weir and images from the internet do not all look identical, which is also confusing. Sometimes the image of Anne resembles a young Elizabeth ! How do we know for sure that Queen Elizabeth I’s locket ring was a photo of her mother? Is there any historical proof? I wish we all could know what Anne Boleyn truly looked like. Thank you,

      I really enjoy your website!

  9. I disagree that the pictures are the same. In a way they are the same because they are mother and daughter. They may have the same facial features but no they are not technically the same.

    Savarnah Wilkie

  10. Having watched the morphing video several times and read your article at the Elizabeth site, I wanted to point you in the direction of another morphing video that will prove interesting and perhaps even relevant: “Women in Art” [available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUDIoN-_Hxs&feature=player_embedded]

    Admittedly, with the Anne/Elizabeth morph, we are dealing only with 2 women who also happened to be mother and daughter. Yet, the “Women in Art” project also finds distinct and striking similarities between the women it features, particularly with regard to their eyes, which seem to change but remain so very alike (if that makes sense). The morphing is quite good, as with the Anne/Elizabeth video, so the blends are very subtle.

    While it could be that Gheeraerts based his painting of Anne on that of Elizabeth, I so hope the other option is the correct one: that Elizabeth began to look more and more like her mother as she aged. What a perfect completion this would make to Anne’s story!

  11. I found this video extremely interesting. When I was younger, I could not see the resemblance between me and my mother, though people told me that I looked just like her. There is a photo of my mother taken her senior year of high school when I photoshop my head over hers, the image does not change. I really do look like my mother! I too believe that the sitters were different, and that Elizabeth bore a strong resemblence to her mother, Anne (especially as she got older).

    1. Hi Claire –

      Fascinating insights, as always, here at the AB Files!
      I remember reading Ives’ conclusion too and wonder if anyone has tried to Photoshop all four of those Anne Boleyn representations (medal, ring, portrait, miniature) together to see the overall picture?
      My Photoshop skills are not sharp enough for that, but perhaps someone else has tried?


  12. Hi Jen,
    Thanks for that link, I’ll definitely watch that video, sounds interesting!

    Whether or not the paintings were based on each other, I do believe that Elizabeth looked like her mother in many way and probably more so as she aged.

  13. That was truly a mind twister!! When the faces merged together there was no doubt of them be extremely similar to a point of being almost the same. The way this video was done leaves little to question. I guess I would wonder if the painter who did Queen Elizabeth I used a portrait of Queen Anne Boleyn, her mother as a guide to painting the face? Lets not kid ourselves that in families the off spring resemble either one or the other of the parents or they have a complete mixture of both. It is quite possible, even more so after this video, that Elizabeth favored her mother in appearance. This whole thing sort of took my breathe away…..Thanks Claire for making our minds work overtime on this one!!

  14. That was an amazing video. Chilling, almost, as well. I do believe- not that I really have solid reason to believe this- that Elizabeth probably had a good mix of both her mother and father’s features, bt as most people here seem to believe, as she aged, she looked more like her Mom. When I was younger I was the spitting image (and personality) of my father. Now, as an adult, I’m starting to take after my Mom, both personality and looks.

  15. It’s hard to know but I tended to see the differences as well as the similarities in the 2 portraits. I look just like my mother, and even have her laugh and her walk, and from a distance people often mistake us for each other.

  16. i have never been able to see even a faint atractiveness in any portrait said to be of anne. it has always puzzled me…….did people really look so different 500 years ago? i am aware that there are trends in what is thought to represent beauty and that these things change with the times, but given so many men appear to have been attracted to anne, one supposes she possesed some attractive features. in the npg portrait her mouth is small and tight, much like her famous husbands cruel little mouth…..so if elizebeth inherited dads mouth then perhaps the likeness is based more on elizabeth, as one reader said as a kind of flattery. any way you look at it it is intriuging at the very least.

  17. I have a large print of the Rainbow portrait of Elizabeth alongside the portrait of Anne on my bedroom wall and often find myself comparing the two (I’d add one of Henry if I didn’t want to chop *his* head off) and finding them exceedingly similar too, so I personally don’t think the NPG portrait is based on the Marcus Gheeraerts portrait.

  18. i just saw the “portrait of elizabeth holding a serpent” which they apparently painted in a rose to cover up the serpent ,what i am asking is about the portrait they discovered underneath this portait of elizabeth ,a very beautiful woman who i think is anne does anyone else think so

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