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Most attractive wife?
July 17, 2011
12:07 pm
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Catalina
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I just wondered, going by the portraits of each wife, which wife do you consider to be the most attractive?

I have to say Anne Boleyn, despite her not being the ideal of beauty at the time.  She stands out for me as very very attractive.

In order I would say

Anne Boleyn

Anne of Cleves

Katherine of Aragon (although in her younger portraits she is beautiful)

Catherine Parr

Jane Seymour

Katherine Howard

Sorry its a bit of a shallow question but I have been studying all day and my brain has turned to mush, so just thought I would post an easy discussion.

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

July 19, 2011
12:50 am
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I too think Anne was by far the most attractive- based on her portraits she is very nice to look at though as you say, not the ideal beauty of the time. But her personality, fashion, accent, physique all make a very attractive package.

Katherine of Aragon was a very pretty princess so she comes in second followed by little Katherine Howard.

Then Katheryn Parr, then Anne of Cleves. If I was going only on Holbein's portrait I would list Anne of Cleves as second.. but I'v seen other pictures of Anne of Cleves and they weren't pretty!

Everyone on the site is aware of my opinion of the Seymour, so I wont even go there!Wink

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

July 19, 2011
7:14 am
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DuchessofBrittany
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For me, KOA (especially as a Princess) is quite beautiful. According to historical sources, she was the epitome of beauty for her period. I am sure her beauty is what captured Henry's heart in the beginning. It's a shame what years of childbearing, miscarriages, and stillbirths did to be physically and emotionally.

Anne is more sexy than beauty. There is a certain je ne sais quoi. I believe it was her intelligence, sex appeal, and wit that captured men's hearts more than her looks, which is never a bad thing. I am reminded of Heather Dale's song Medusa. It's a song about a girl, less than coventionally attractive, yet she captures the hearts and minds of all the boys: much like our Anne.

Katherine Parr is quite pretty is many of her portraits, although Elizabeth Norton makes a note to the contrary. Much like Anne, KP had intelliegence and wit to compensate for her appearance.

Anne of Cleves, according to the Holbein portrait.

I am not sure what to make of KH. I guess for her time she was cute: she has a certain look about her, seductive and all.

Poor Jane Seymour: none of her portraits do the girl any justice. I imagine her blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair complextion were the standard for the day.

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

July 19, 2011
8:02 am
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Elliemarianna
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E said:

I too think Anne was by far the most attractive- based on her portraits she is very nice to look at though as you say, not the ideal beauty of the time. But her personality, fashion, accent, physique all make a very attractive package.

Katherine of Aragon was a very pretty princess so she comes in second followed by little Katherine Howard.

Then Katheryn Parr, then Anne of Cleves. If I was going only on Holbein's portrait I would list Anne of Cleves as second.. but I'v seen other pictures of Anne of Cleves and they weren't pretty!

Everyone on the site is aware of my opinion of the Seymour, so I wont even go there!Wink


Same here!

Maybe Henry chose Jane's plain looks so she couldn't outshine him like Anne did Laugh I wonder where the saying plain Jane comes from…

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

July 19, 2011
8:05 am
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Elliemarianna
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Ahh plain Jane comes from 1912 – not Jane Seymour then haha…

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

July 19, 2011
8:09 am
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Catalina
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To be fair though, that awful gable hood probably doesn't do her any favours. I bet she would look quite different if we had a portrait of her with her long hair showing for example.

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

July 19, 2011
12:40 pm
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Elliemarianna
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Catalina said:

To be fair though, that awful gable hood probably doesn't do her any favours. I bet she would look quite different if we had a portrait of her with her long hair showing for example.


It's not very good –  I rushed it – But here is Jane with her hair down:

(From how I imagine her hair would be)

Image Enlarger

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

July 19, 2011
12:49 pm
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Catalina
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Wow, thats awesome, did you paint this?

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

July 19, 2011
2:33 pm
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Elliemarianna
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Sorta – In photoshop Laugh

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

July 19, 2011
3:25 pm
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I'm doing this based on a mix of descriptions and portrait, because obviously the Anne of Cleves portrait (and others, most likely) were flattering. By modern standards of beauty, I think in this order (yes, I may be partial, but I would still think Anne was the most beautiful even if I didn't like her!):

1. Anne Boleyn

2. Catherine Parr

3. Katherine of Aragon

4. Anne of Cleves (in her Holbein portrait, I would put her second or third, but because of descriptions and other, less flattering portraits…)

5. Katherine Howard

6. Jane Seymour

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

July 19, 2011
10:26 pm
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Bella44
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Elliemarianna said:


It's not very good –  I rushed it – But here is Jane with her hair down:

 

(From how I imagine her hair would be)

Image Enlarger

Wow, that's awesome!  Jane looks so much better already; such a pity she didn't have better fashion sense  Laugh

This is actually a really hard question to answer – without actually seeing the women in person, how can we really tell?!  I will say though that I think Holbein was an astonishing portraitist, almost better than a camera at capturing not just a persons looks but their personality as well, so I think his depictions of Jane, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard are fairly accurate.  So out of those three I would judge Anne of Cleves the prettiest.  I would say KH but there's something about the miniature that makes her look haughty and a bit of a snob and that sort of bearing in a person I don't find attractive at all.  Perhaps if she were smiling a bit more I could definitely say she was the prettiest!  By the way – has anyone noticed how AOC is portrayed full on as opposed to Holbeins more usual three-quarter pose?  I've seen other portraits of her three-quarters on and it appears she had a rather large nose…. Maybe Holbein put her in that pose to offer the most flattering angle and that's why Henry was so appalled when he saw her in person!  Despite that I still think out of those three she was the most attractive Laugh
As for KOA, AB and CP it's even more difficult to tell.  The portrait of KOA when she was younger is simply stunning in its life-like quality and you can see why Henry loved her for so long.  Catherine Parr always seems to come off as a bit peevish looking in her portraits with small eyes and thin lips and none appear to portray her intellectual power, which I think is a huge pity.  She needed a Holbein to really give her life!
As for Anne, I'm a bit gutted that no really exceptional portrait dating from her lifetime exists.  In my mind she was the one who used what nature gave her to its full advantage and exploited everything she had to its full advantage making her to a certain extent, rather modern.  She didn't just rely on her looks and wasn't afraid to use her intellect, her wit and her charm.  And as we all know, intelligent, clever and witty women are always the most interesting, alluring and downright stunning in any situation!!!    
  

July 20, 2011
6:31 am
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Anyanka
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Elliemarianna said:

Catalina said:

To be fair though, that awful gable hood probably doesn't do her any favours. I bet she would look quite different if we had a portrait of her with her long hair showing for example.


It's not very good –  I rushed it – But here is Jane with her hair down:
 

(From how I imagine her hair would be)

Image Enlarger


She looks like Luna Lovegood.

It's always bunnies.

July 20, 2011
6:36 am
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Catalina
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I vaguely recall reading somewhere that her hair was her most alluring feature because it was such a pale shade of blonde it was almost silvery. Whether I read it in a fiction or non fiction book I can't remember though.

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

July 20, 2011
6:43 am
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Elliemarianna
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Maybe she was albino? That would explain her lack of colouring… lol!

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

July 20, 2011
9:19 am
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MegC
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I thought I had read somewhere that Jane's hair was actually more of a strawberry blond.

And I'm irritated because I responded to this post last night and I have NO idea where my post went!

1.  I have to say Katherine Howard.  Kitty is my least favorite of Henry's wives, but Holbein did such an amazing job of capturing that “come hither” look in her eyes, I sort of understand why Henry fell for her.  I do wish that she had more of a smile in the portrait, but if we're judging solely on appearance, then I think KH probably wins top prize for me.

2.  Anne.  If you look at her Holbein portrait, she, too, has a bit of the “come hither” look in her eyes, but it's tempered more by her slight smile.

3. Anne of Cleves.  I have a soft spot in my heart for AoC, and I think it's sad that she's gone down in history as “the ugly one” because Henry couldn't consummate the marriage.  Why, pray tell, is Anne blamed for Henry's impotence?  So maybe she had a big nose–who cares?  Jane Seymour had essentially no chin and Henry himself had a disgusting ulcerating leg so isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?

4 and 5.  Tie between Katherine of Aragon and Catherine Parr.  I just don't feel like any of their portraits do them justice.  The portrait of Catherine Parr as a young lady is stunning, but neither of the portraits done of them later in life is especially attractive.

6.  Jane Seymour.  Bless her heart.  As we've all mentioned, the gabled hood did absolutely nothing for her.  But I also tend to think that she probably wasn't all that unattractive by standards of the day.  Unfortunately, she's being compared to five other women who WERE very attractive.  It's like comparing me to Heidi Klum or Angelina Jolie.  I'm not unattractive, but I'm also no super model.

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

July 20, 2011
9:51 am
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Elliemarianna
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I've always imagined people in tudor portraits smiling… I wonder how many of them had rotten or no teeth? Mary had lost all of her teeth in her 20's. Not that it's much diffrent now in England for people on the NHS haha!

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

July 20, 2011
10:51 am
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Elliemarianna said:

Catalina said:

To be fair though, that awful gable hood probably doesn't do her any favours. I bet she would look quite different if we had a portrait of her with her long hair showing for example.


It's not very good –  I rushed it – But here is Jane with her hair down:
(From how I imagine her hair would be)

Image Enlarger


Fantastic! She's not much better without the hood is she?!! Chuckle.. I'v thought that too, she was definitely safe from outshining anyone! -Great pic!

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

July 20, 2011
10:58 am
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MegC said:

  It's like comparing me to Heidi Klum or Angelina Jolie.  I'm not unattractive, but I'm also no super model.


Nonsence MegC!! the best supermodels are plain- Im sure we would all outshine them should they take their makeup off!Smile

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

July 20, 2011
10:59 am
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Apart from Jane Seymour…

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

July 21, 2011
8:54 am
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Henry seemed to indicate it was AoC's body odour that put him off. Also, she seems to have been quite a big lady and Henry liked his women petite, so it's not just a question of the face.  I also think there may have been a convention that royalty was painted as being serious – having been born or called to this position they are conscious of their own importance (or something like that anyway). Also if you think how much your face can ache when someone's taking a bit too long to take a photo imagine what smiling while someone painted your portrait would have done to you!

 

Anne obviously seems to have been the most attractive, although not conventionally so. It's a shame we don't have a definite painting of her by Holbein.

KoA as a young woman was pretty.

Catherine Howard looks to have been attractive – I think the haughty expression on her face might have been due to her youth and not really knowing how to be queen.

I'd tie AoC and KP – they're not unattractive but neither are they particularly outstanding. Having said that, in both cases they were probably the most attractive of the women available to Henry. AoC was one of the few European princesses that would agree to marry him and (because of the Act of Attainder that condemned CH) Henry really had to marry a widow on the last time around. Had the timing been different there would have been a few more around but not in 1543.

And that leaves poor Jane – of whom Chapuys says 'nobody thinks she has much beauty'.

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