Anne Boleyn Treasures Uncovered!

Jun 30, 2009 #Boleyn Cup #picture #portrait

Well, what an exciting few days we’ve had on the forum here at The Anne Boleyn Files. Just a week ago, Anne Boleyn Files member, Emma, posted a photo of an Anne Boleyn portrait that she had found on a website that was closing down. All she knew about this portrait was that it was a photo of one on display in Ludlow Castle Lodge, Shropshire, England. She didn’t know the artist, the date it was painted or anything about this portrait and she hadn’t seen it in any books about Anne Boleyn and she wanted to know if any other Anne Boleyn fans knew anything about it.

Anne Boleyn LudlowAs you can see, it is a beautiful portrait of Anne Boleyn and it has got us discussing it madly on the forum. See Ludlow Portrait of Anne thread.

In my opinion, it is very like the National Portrait Gallery portrait of Anne, if you look at the face and hair, but this time Anne seems to be wearing her B pendant as a brooch and has a collection of objects in front of her – a manuscript (possibly music), an apple and a cup. The painting also clearly says Anne’s name and her age, 31.

We’ve all been picking apart this picture and asking questions and formulating theories:-

  • Is Anne pregant?
  • Does she have six fingers in the portrait?
  • Is the manuscript music? Is it meant to be “Greensleeves”?
  • Are the items symbolic?

After some digging around, I have learned that it is likely to be a jewelled pomander that Anne is carrying in her right hand, as this was a common thing for Tudor ladies to have attached to their girdles, and that the cup on the table in front of her is the Boleyn Cup complete with the Boleyn crest (see below for more information).

Steve, who makes our gold-plated Anne Boleyn B necklace actually lives in Ludlow and I spoke to him about the portrait and he does not think it is “authentic”, i.e. actually posed for by Anne, and I have to agree with him. I’m not an art historian by any stretch of the imagination but to me it is too brightly coloured, has too much symbolism and is too much like the National Portrait Gallery one to be the “real deal” – but hey, I’m not an expert? What do you think?

The Boleyn Cup

Boleyn CupOur friendly jeweller, Steve, also mentioned that the Boleyn Cup is in a church in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England, so I did some research into that too.

The Boleyn Cup was made for Anne Boleyn in 1535 when she was Queen, just a year before her death, and is made out of silver and gilt. It was apparently passed on to her daughter, Elizabeth I, who gave it as a gift to Richard Master, her physician, and then he eventually gave it to St John the Baptist Parish Church in Cirencester where it still lives today.

Anne Boleyn’s crest was a crowned falcon on a tree stump with red and white flowers, so I am assuming that the bird on the top is Anne Boleyn’s falcon. It really is an exquisite cup and is one of just a few surviving belongings of the Queen, along with her Books of Hours, a bedhead at Hever Castle, a letter from 1514 and an ornate gold clock given to Anne by Henry VIII (now at St James’ Palace, London).

Isn’t it sad that we cannot see more of the possessions of this amazing Queen of England?

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37 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn Treasures Uncovered!”
  1. That portrait is a modern one done in the style of the period. It is not an authentic likeness of Anne in the period.

    I found it on a website somewhere a while back – I’m sure it detailed who painted it but as usual I can’t find it now.

    It is very beautifully executed though.

    In terms of the question – the stance is typical of any woman of that period in that style gown – I am wearing exactly that kind of gown at Kentwell now and it gives a very similar stance.

    Incidentally, Greensleeves as a song is not know prior to the 1580s. The tune is an old one, but the words are much later and well after Anne’s time.

    1. Yes, that’s what I think too, Elizabeth, it’s not at all like the styles of other paintings from that period. It is an interesting portrait though.
      I think I’ve written about the “Greensleeves” myth before and on the Anne Boleyn songs page. I know that when I researched it then that the first mention of it is in 1580 so a good 44 years after Anne’s death – still, it’s a beautiful song.
      You’ll have to send me a photo of you in your gown, I’d love to see it, Elizabeth.

      1. You can see pictures of me here:
        Back view:
        Side view:
        Another side view;

        Front view: with me playing my lute.

        This gown was not made by me. Its an older gown in my collection and was made in 1999 by Ninya Mikhaila. I made the black undersleeves and the gable hood.

        At present I am in Kentwell AND working on my new gown which is a green one. Hoping it will be completed ready to be worn this weekend.

        1. It’s a beautiful gown, Elizabeth, and the gable hood is fantastic. I’d really like to do a page about Tudor costumes so any advice or information you can give me would be very much appreciated! Let us know when you have a photo of the green gown.

        2. Thanks.

          Tell what you angle you want r.e. Tudor costume and I would be happy to help – though, could it wait till August? I am special guest speaker at a costume symposium near LA at the end of July and quite busy just now with making the green 1535 gown; a medieval “Queen” gown and also 4 classes to write!


          All the best

          Elizabeth (or Bess as I’m usually known!).

  2. Naaah! No way in hell that’s Anne. I mean, you can even notice the different betwen the color of her face and her neckline. That’s cheap invention.

    I hate that fact that we a prived from seeing the Boleyn Cup. I think is so gorgeous, and it’s such a shame that is kept away from us 🙁

    btw – WONDERFUL website, congrats ^_^

    1. Thanks, Ana! I’m pretty convinced that it’s just a painting inspired by the National Portrait Gallery one – the face, the hair and hood are pretty much identical.

  3. Yes, i’ve seen this portrait before! Don’t remember where, but where I saw it, it said that she was indeed pregnant. She looks pretty 🙂

    1. She does look pregnant doesn’t she. I know Elizabeth in her comment has said that it is probably just her stance but it would be nice to think that it may be Elizabeth in that bump!

  4. Even though this portrait is probably not authentic – I still love it as we don’t have any portraits of Anne that shows so much of her. I’d love to have this interpretation to hang in my home!

  5. Hey Claire – I noticed you mentioned the bed head that is at Hever Castle as being one of Anne’s extant possessions. On my trip there last month, I learned that the bed head was never Anne’s. In the official Hever tour book, it says that it has been dated and no part of the bed head existed before 1600.
    Ironically, whoever made the bed head carved in it the words: “Part of Anne Boleyn’s bed 1520).
    They believe that it was made in Victorian times during the resurgence of interest in Anne.
    I was SO disappointed to learn the truth!

    1. Yes, I should have known better than to mention the bedhead because it is just one of those myths! The guide book does indeed say that it does not date before 1600 and although it has a carving saying “Part of Anne Boleyn’s bed from Hever 1520”, as you say it is thought to be Victorian – sad!

  6. The portrait did not look right to me from the shoulders on down. Too bright and colorful.

    The body doesn’t seem to mesh well with the shoulders, neck and face. As well the shawl with the ruffles doesn’t seem to be in sync with the fashion of Anne’s time.

    But it’s still beautiful and shows Anne’s calm, serene and confident face.

    Does anybody else notice that in the portraits that survived from that time period of Anne that her hair color is not black or is it just my eyes getting old ?

    1. I think that’s why I like the rose portrait from Hever Castle because in that one she has dark eyes and dark hair, which is how she is described, rather than this chestnut coloured hair and light eyes. I agree with you too about the shawl.

    2. Hi Sherri,

      Actually, the artist (who I think is a modern one) has depicted the costume of the 1530s very well.
      “Anne” isn’t wearing a shawl. The white things that look like a shawl are actually turn backwhite fur cuffs which hang quite low. They then show off the under or fore-sleeves.

      The “face” pattern or stance is that of Mary (Wotton), Lady Guildford – and also probably Holbein’s drawing of a Lady Walking (which is the ONLY image we have of the back of these gowns):

      You can see the turn back cuff clearly in the drawing but have to look more carefully at Lady Guildford’s as hers are a brown fur whereas in this modern painting of Anne, she has white fur.

      Having said all that, the colours are just a bit “off” to be a period portrait. Also, if this one is painted on canvas then it clearly isn’t period – at this time, paintings like this would be executed on oak boards.

      All the best


  7. It may not be contemporary and we may not have a lot of info, but I absolutely LOVE this portrait. Physical attributes aside, there is just something about it that gives that spark of her personality. It really reaches out to me. You feel as if she is gazing right at you, waiting for you to bow.

  8. I agree, it’s most likely a fake, but its gorgeous! I adore it!

    However, I have to disagree with your comment about how it can’t be real because it has too much symbolism.
    If you look at any Renaissance painting, especially in the early 1500s, they are heavily influenced with symbols. Anne was a great lover of art and of the Renaissance, so for her portrait to incorporate symbols would natural and expected, I would think.
    I think the symbols in this “fake” are a little too obvious. Anne would have liked ones with more deeper meaning.

  9. Hi,
    It is gorgeous, I love the way that Anne looks as if she could just walk out of the painting. What I meant by the symbolism was that I thought it was a bit too obvious, like you say, – the Boleyn cup for example. It seems to be crying out “Look I’m Anne Boleyn and I’m an old painting because I’ve got the Boleyn cup and I’ve got my age on too!”. I can’t really explain or put a finger on why I don’t think it’s of Anne’s time but it just doesn’t “go” with other paintings I’ve seen from that era. I’m no art historian (as you can tell!) but it just doesn’t seem right. Also the fact that it is in Ludlow Castle Lodge, and not in an art gallery or museum, and that it is not in any of the Anne Boleyn books makes me think that it has been discredited.
    Whatever our views, they do not detract from the fact that it is a lovely portrait and I would so like it to be hanging in my house!

  10. Hi:

    I think this is a beautiful portrait, fake or not. Anne looks so lovely, as we know she was.
    I would love to have this hanging in my home.

  11. Its incredibly sad that so little survives of her today. Probably because Henry VIII had everything destroyed or most everything in an attempt to blot her out. I’ve read that in one of the castles her crest still remains, like it was passed over or forgotten to be scratched out or something.

  12. Jut a random thought here, even if it is a fake, if Anne is pregnant in this picture could the apple be symbolism of that. I think i read somehere that Anne claimed she had a cravng for apples at the beginning of her pregnancy?

  13. There is so much symbolism in this photo, isn’t there?! And yes, I think the apple and the slightly curved stomach may well be pointing towards pregnancy. Thanks, Kelly!

  14. Figuring out when a painting was done depends on many things, so an art historian or an art restorer can tell the age by the pigments used in the paint, the material used to paint the picture on, and even how the varnish and paints have changed over time. Art restoration is a science and you need to know the chemicals used and the affects of aging to see when a portrait was done. I use to work at the L.A. County Museum of Art and was an art history major. If I had better math skills, I would have loved to work in art restoration.

  15. I just wanted to comment on this photo of Anne Boleyn. If you goon the Tudor’s website (tv show series) this picture will be there. I have been researching for the past hour and just came across your site. Beautiful might I add. But they have MANY pictures of Anne. Not quite sure they are all authentic but I found the site quite exciing. Hope that helped.. – Jennifer

  16. Oh and I apologize, me again.. But I just looked over the picture again and it seems that the glare coming off of the piece is from a camera flash. I really dont know if that means anything, but I just thought I would share my thoughts.

  17. Hi Jennifer,
    This image was found on another Tudor website that was closing and is a photo of the portrait from Ludlow Castle Lodge, Ludlow, Shropshire, and unfortunately it does show the reflection of the photographer’s camera flash. It is a lovely portrait however old amd accurate it is. Thanks so much for your comment and I’m glad you like the site. We also have a wiki site where people can add portraits, photos, YouTube videos etc. at

  18. I can put this one firmly to bed for you as I know the house and the owner. It is a portrait of Anne painted within the last twenty years based on evidence available. If you want a close up of any of it and you can’t get it from here let me know. It is still worth a visit as it is an awesome piece of work and there are many more there as well.


    1. I would very much like any information on this painting if you have it. My dear friend is writing a book on Anne (The Creation of Anne Boleyn) and she would very much like to use it in her book. If you would please contact me, I would appreciate it.

      emailforholly @ gmail dot com

      1. Hi Holly,
        I don’t have any details other than it is a modern painting and was on display at Ludlow Castle Lodge in Ludlow, Shropshire. Sorry! We had a long discussion about it in the forum a while back, see Olivia from the Facebook page Anne Boleyn and the Tudor Time Warpe – did some more digging into it and found a photo of it from littlemisssunnydale (NasimT on Twitter) who wrote:

        “Detail of a late twentieth-century portrait of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII. The portrait, which is less than eighteen years old, was specifically made for Castle Lodge, a superb building in the heart of Ludlow, Shropshire. The building dates back to the thirteenth-century though much has been altered since. Today mostly the sixteenth and seventeenth century alterations remain. A series of portraits of prominent Tudor figures, namely Henry VIII’s wives, were made to furnish the house after it was purchased by Mr and Mrs Pearson around eighteen years ago. They were painted by a local artist who, I was told, has since gone on to be well known. I was told by the lovely couple who own the house that the lodgings were originally part of nearby Ludlow Castle though the fortifications attached to the lodgings were destroyed during the Civil War. Cannon balls fired at the lodgings by the parliamentarians can still be found in parts of the walls. The building, which is currently up for sale, has been used for several period dramas, and continues to be open to the public.”


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