If you remember, a few months ago, I reported that the National Portrait Gallery had taken its famous Anne Boleyn portrait off display so that it could be analysed as part of  the “Making Art in Tudor Britain” project. The analysis proved that the painting was from the late sixteenth century, so not long after Anne’s lifetime, but it also showed that the painting was in dire need of restoration.

The National Portrait Gallery says:-

“It is in a particularly vulnerable and unstable condition as a result of structural problems with the wooden panel. Vertical cracking has occurred across the picture causing minor paint loss where the wood has split (see the photograph taken in raking light). We need to act now as the damage is being caused by the long term effects of an unsuitable cradle (an applied wooden panel support) which must be removed. Therefore this important and much loved painting needs urgent conservation treatment to ensure it can be put back on public display.”

Raking light, on the image you see here, reveals what the NPG describe as “the perilous state of this panel painting”.

£4,000 is required for the NPG to carry out the much needed restoration work on this painting so that it can be put back on display and enjoyed by future generations. How awful it would be if the painting became damaged beyond repair! If this amount can be raised then work will start early this year.

How can you help? Well, you can go to http://www.npg.org.uk/support/donation/conservation-donation.php, choose Queen Anne Boleyn from the drop down menu of paintings needing restoration, choose an amount you would like to donate and then click on “Make Donation Now” to be taken through the NPG payment processing. I realise that many people are strapped for cash at the moment, what with it being shortly after Christmas and with our present economic climate, but please help save this painting if you can.

Thank you.

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44 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn Portrait at Risk”
  1. I’m so sorry to hear about this. This has always been one of my favorite portraits of Anne. I’ve added a task to my calendar: for the next few months I’m going to make a small donation because I can’t do the whole thing at once and it’ll help me spread it out. I know it’s not a lot, but I’d like to help the best I can, even with currency conversion. Here’s hoping the NPG can get started on the restoration ASAP so we can have this lovely painting back on public view in the very near future.

  2. I, too, hate to hear about this. I will make a small donation within the next month–wish I could do more but every little bit helps. Thanks, Claire, for making us all aware of this. We need to save all we can from history.

  3. Tomorrow is payday and I want to do something to save this treasure. I used a money converter and found that 20 pounds is about 32 US dollars, so if enough people send in even that amount then the conservation work can start. I would love to see pictures of how the work is done.

  4. How could this be…….why wasn’t someone on top of this and checking all of the paintings at the National Portrait Gallery…..!! Bet they are now for sure!! I remember seeing this painting and I do not remember any damage, but than maybe the damage is not clear enough to the naked eye….let’s hope they are able to salvage it….It is not like we have paintings to spare of Queen Anne Boleyn…..right!! Well it is 2011 and I look forward to all our discussions and all your articles Claire….your Anne Boleyn is getting closer as is our visit to London…in fact British Airways got a hold of us yesterday and we did our seat assignments….The National Portrait Gallery is one of our stops, can not wait…..

  5. Anne,
    Hello.. I just wanted you to know I just send 20 Pounds / 32 US dollars to the NPG for this restoration. Even though I am not a UK Citizen (I am from English Descent) and have never been to the UK (I am US Citizen) I admire Old England and all of your wonderful history.. Being from the US our ancient history is not as in depth and I thank you for everything you do.

  6. I am sure when I first saw this painting as a child, there was a very noticable crack running down it by her left eye and side of her nose.
    I have viewed the portrait many times since,and was always amazed at how well that damage had been repaired.
    I was very concerned last year,when I learned from the gallery the portrait was in urgent need of conservation work and would be off display for quite some time.I sent this infomation on to Claire as I was sure other AB Files visitors would want to know about this.

    I L.O.V.E. this painting of Anne !

    I am far from rich, but I have today donated £10.00 to the NPG fund.
    I sincerely hope the £4000 is found quickly and she will be back on display very soon.

  7. I’m surprised at how little they need to raise, I thoiught it would be more than that. Sadly I’ll have to wait a few weeks before I can contribute.

  8. I am so sorry to hear this.. Last March, I visited the NPG and saw the painting, it seemed fine and I was so moved to be able to see it. I am definately going to make a small donation this week. Altogether we can help to have this painting of our dear Anne restored.

  9. I hate to hear this. I really love this portrait so much and I want to help. But unfortunately I don’t have a credit card. I really hope to find a way to make a small donation…

  10. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I shall be
    making a donation tomorrow. A few years ago I went to see this
    portrait and I had to hang back as an American couple were standing
    right in front of it having the following conversation: (Woman)
    “That’s Anne Boleyn”, (Husband) “How do you know?” (Woman) “Oh she
    always wears that dress”. I’m surprised I wasn’t thrown out for
    laughing so loudly. :))

  11. Lea, in the US you can get a prepaid Visa card. It works
    like a credit card but you havel already paid in advance, I use to
    get one before I got my debit card because it was an emergency bit
    of cash I could keep in my wallet. You might want to check into
    getting one.

  12. This pains me to see… Anne needs to be restored! We can’t
    lose this beautiful painting of her! If I could give ALL of the
    money I had to the National Portrait Gallery I would. But sadly, 16
    year olds don’t tend to have a lot of money…. Please! Save in
    since I can’t!!!!!!

  13. We need a Facebook link to share this with! Twitter too!!
    That would really help spread the word! I can make a donation on
    behalf of the History & Preservation Club at WVUP next week
    when we go back to campus, and I will also see about doing some
    fundraising.We have already joined the Mary Rose 500 crew, but this
    needs out attention! Even if everyone gave 5 or 10 dollars or
    Euros, we could make this happen quickly!

  14. This is so sad! I can’t even imagine Tudor history without
    this painting. As I’m not English and the currency of my country is
    not as strong as English one, I will try to make a small donation
    every single month. As I do love Anne Boleyn’s history I can not
    allow this painting to be lost forever!

  15. Bad news indeed. I’ve made a donation. After decades of
    devotion to Anne, it’s the least I can do. I hope they can start
    work soon. Sorry to see that their John Donne portrait is also in
    need of restoration.

  16. This is terrible. I will donate what I can, but certainly
    there are many historians and other writers who would be interested
    in preserving such an invaluable historical portrait. And have the
    money to do it. The work could probably begin tomorrow if just one
    of them would step up and save this portrait. Doesn’t this portrait
    appear in nearly every book on the Tudors? It may just being a
    matter of making them aware this is happening.

  17. I agree. We can do this! This is an English national
    treasure, but I think it’s a world treasure as well. I’ve already
    donated and will try to do so in future. I also agree with putting
    this up on our Facebook pages for more traffic to see. Is there a
    way to link to this specific article? Thanks, Claire and Gillian,
    for bring this to our attention.

  18. As soon as I am paid i will donate! i hope we make £4000
    but what happens if we dont? what happens to the money?

  19. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll sell my teeth if I must. I
    love Queen Anne, I have loved her since I was a kid at the age of
    4. I have 21 years of love for her.

  20. So sad to think this important part of our history could be lost. I have donated already. We must do everything we can to save this portrait of queen anne. Every penny helps just donste what you can.

  21. I donated, but we need some deeper pockets. If anyone has any contact information for Tudor historians or writers , contact them and let them know about this. I would think anyone with an interest in the Tudor period would be appalled to hear what has happened to this portrait and that the public may never see it again.

  22. The NPG on Facebook has the appeal up on their profile page and the first comment is from the NPG itself thanking The AB Files for being so supportive of this effort!! And then they link to this page. That’s fantastic! I did tell them when I donated that I’d found out about it here, so maybe others have, too? Very cool to have our passion recognized.


    You can also display their appeal on your own profile page to spread the word.

    1. That’s so sweet of them, I hope spreading the word has made a real difference. Thanks for your comment on their Facebook page, Carolyn.

  23. Just read on the NPG website that in the first week they have received 1,096 pounds, and someone made a donation of 500 pounds!

  24. I first heard about this on YouTube. Then, I became so intrigued into fixing the issue, that I decided to follow along and started spreading it as well. And, one of my dear friends on there said that he would pay as much as he can, and he said perhaps the rest (because he is associated with many buisnesses of sort). Which, we still are going through with this, and have recieved so much support from MANY people on there. They all said that they would donate as much as possible, which, will hopefully make the restoration begin earlier than scheduled : )
    It will make ALL of us happy Anne fans feel relieved that we can still see this : D
    And, I (and many others) consider art the gates of history. I can’t wait until they restore it!

  25. After working in an art museum I was surprised at how much artwork the museum owned and how a small amount of it was on display. A lot of older works of art have suffered from the good intentions of earlier restorers to save them. It is a slow and expensive process to remove layers of varnish or repair damage caused to wood by termites, The process of restoring art has to be done by trained professionals and someone with a background in art and chemistry, so the people involved have a lot of training and they do not come cheap. The LA County Museum of Art is constantly looking for people with money. It really is amazing what a fancy dinner and your name on a plaque can accomplish. Maybe the NPG needs to find individuals (like Sting) or companies looking for good PR to have their name on a plaque near the painting they saved. So Joe Millionaire can forever be remembered as the one who saved the painting of John Donne. I am sure that most museums are short of funds for restoration and seem to be caught up with acquiring things more than taking care of what they have.

  26. That’s a good idea, lisaannejane. If I were Jane
    Millionaire, I’d happily fund the entire Anne restoration, but I
    wouldn’t need my name on a plaque to do it. I’d be happy just
    knowing I’d done it. But Joe and Jane Millionaire often don’t have
    a passion for history, so we need the plaques with their names on
    it to entice them to donate.

  27. Carolyn, It really was interesting to see how different
    people reacted to their donations, Some insisted upon remaining
    anonymous while others were obsessed with how their name appeared
    on a plaque showing who purchased the artwork. The poor curators
    would have a heart attack if a very picky individual might see a
    typo in their name. The endless pursuit of collecting art and
    looking for donors kind of turned me off the field. So many things
    needed repairs and were just added to the list. I honestly did not
    understand that if your purchased something you would not be
    prepared to preserve itl

  28. I pray they can save the painting. I have seen her portrait twice when I have gone to England. It is one of my favorites of her!

  29. I was a bit late, but I finally was able to make my donation for Anne’s portrait. I hope they raise the money soon, so they can start the restoration.

    Is there any way we can get information about how much they have already raised?

      1. Thank you for informing me, Claire! I will be checking the page regularly! I wish I could donate more, but every pound counts!! 🙂 I think altogether we will save this fabulous portrait!

  30. Sooooo glad i found this website! I love that portrait and did wonder where it had got to after my last visit to the gallery! I will indeed me adding my funds to a worthy case in preserving a part history that i love!

  31. I am retired and on a fixed income. While I can not afford $32 US, I can afford $5. It is not much but please, everyone, don’t let your inability to donate a larger amount stop you from helping. Even $1.00 US is a dollar closer to rstoraton.Times are hard but even at $1.00 US, if enough people send it in, the potrait will be saved and that’s the important thing. Give as much as you can, even if it’s not much at all!

  32. i made a donation today and put the anne boleyn appeal page on my facebook page. so few images of this fascinating woman survive and it is so important to save what we have

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