Joanna, Lady Bergavenny, courtesy of the British Museum
Joanna, Lady Bergavenny, courtesy of the British Museum

On Sunday 10th April 2016 Anne Boleyn hit the news with articles in the Sunday Times and Mail Online claiming that a copy of a lost portrait of Anne Boleyn had been found by Alison Weir.1 Now, this wasn’t news to everyone as Weir had shared her eBay find on her Facebook page and that had sparked off discussions on her page and other Tudor history Facebook pages, groups and Twitter accounts.

What was this eBay find?

Well, it was a listing for “Photo of a print: Anne Boleyn portrait from the Holbein Room at Strawberry Hill”. The seller, Mr Howard Jones, was selling photos of a print he owned and in the description, he stated:

“Walpole’s Tudor painting had been incorrectly identified as Lady Joanna Bergaenny [sic] who died before 1505. The initial A on the necklace, the two additional initials and other clues suggest this is a ‘new’ and one of the best surviving portraits of Queen Anne. Boleyn. An engraving of Walpole’s painting had earlier been made in 1798. This is a later more detailed copy made after the Strawberry Hill sale of 1842. Additional information regarding this identification and the provenance of the Tudor painting (by, or after Holbein?) will be sent with the photograph.”2

I purchased a photo and started corresponding with Mr Jones regarding his print, while also researching the print, related prints and the original portrait, and contacting people with expertise in art and costume. Mr Jones told me that the re-identification of the print, from Joan/Joanna (née Fitzalan), wife of George Nevill, Baron Bergavenny, was his own and that it was based on the letters of the necklace being A, B and R – which he took to stand for Anne, Boleyn and Rochford – and the British Museum Print Room telling him it was a Victorian fake of Anne Boleyn. The information he sent with the photo stated that the original portrait was known as Lady Bergavenny, that it was given to Horace Walpole by Lady Beauclerk, daughter of the Duke of Marlborough, that it used to hang in the Holbein Rooms at Strawberry Hill, that the sitter’s necklace had three initials A, B and R, that there is a figure of 8 on the necklace and a swelling on the sitter’s neck, that the sitter has almond-shaped eyes and that the sitter’s facial features match other portraits of Anne Boleyn, such as the Radclyffe portrait/Hever Rose portrait and the National Portrait Gallery D21020 engraving by Robert White – see

Here is the photo I received, which unfortunately was not a photo of the print but a photo of part of the print.

Lady Bergavenny print

Alison Weir agreed with Mr Jones’s re-identification and, according to the Sunday Times, believed that the original portrait, which has not been found yet, “may have been painted to mark Boleyn’s coronation in 1533.” Weir believes that the A, B and R stand for Anne, Boleyn and Regina (Queen) and noted that the A on the necklace and hood resembled the A worn by Elizabeth, the future Elizabeth I, in the Family of Henry VIII painting. The article also stated that “Weir thinks the carnation held by the sitter in the engraving is also significant. The flower symbolises love and may derive from the word coronation” and quoted Weir as saying “Put all this together [and] it does look as though this may be a portrait of Anne Boleyn painted to mark her marriage and coronation.” Tracy Borman, joint-chief curator for the Historic Royal Palaces said that she was also “very convinced”.3

I’m not convinced and neither are the experts I consulted. While we cannot say that it is definitely not Anne Boleyn, the evidence so far, in our opinions, just does not point to it being so. I will now share our research.

The Print and Portrait – Provenance

Mr Jones, in Facebook comments and in emails has stated that “the provenance question is silly” but anyone who watches “Antiques Roadshow” or “Fake and Fortune” will know how important provenance is, not only in determining the value of a piece of art but also in identifying the artist or sitter. The National Portrait Gallery has produced fact sheets about researching portraits and provenance is listed as one of the factors that should be researched: “Tracing the history of the ownership or provenance of a portrait can provide further research leads” and “knowing who originally owned a portrait can sometimes help us to identify the sitter as portraits”.4 So, I got digging!

Howard Jones’s print is one of several based on a painting which, as Jones states, was given to Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, by Lady Diana Beauclerk (née Spencer, 1734–1808), daughter of Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough. Diana was a maid of honour to Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and an artist. I haven’t been able to find (yet!) how Diana got hold it. In A description of the villa of Mr. Horace Walpole, youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole Earl of Orford, at Strawberry-Hill near Twickenham, Middlesex. With an inventory of the furniture, pictures, curiosities, etc. (1784),5 I found a mention of the painting in the “more additions section”: “Johanna lady Abergavenny; vide Royal and Noble Authors: a present from miss Beauclerc, the maid of honour”. This was a reference Walpole’s book Royal and Noble authors in which he included Joan, Lady Bergavenny, as an authoress of prayers, which was a mistake as he meant Frances, wife of Henry, Lord Bergavenny. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, state that the portrait was kept in the Holbein Chamber of Strawberry Hill and that in 1774 its description was “unidentified” but in 1784 its description was “Johanna lady Abergavenny”.6

In 1842, Walpole’s Strawberry Hill Collection was sold by his heirs, dispersing thousands of paintings, drawings, prints, pieces of furniture, books, manuscripts, ceramics etc. around the world. In the sale catalogue is a description of the painting given by Lady Diana Beauclerk to Walpole:

“This is a pleasing portrait of a woman in middle life, handsomely attired in the costume of Henry VIII’s reign, and holding a flower. The network of her head-dress is filled with the letters I [note: I was used for J too] and A, the initials of her maiden name, in alternate rows: and she wears a splendid necklace, which has an A in the centre and at each side a B standing for Bergavenny, as the title was then written…”7

The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, state what happened to it at the sale:

“Provenance: Gift of Lady Diana Beauclerk to Horace Walpole; 1842, Strawberry Hill London Sale, day 20, lot 76[sold] bt Jarman, £21.00.00.”8

This could be John Jarman, a London dealer of curiosities. It passed from Jarman on to Ralph Bernal, being listed in Catalogue of the celebrated collection of works of art, from the Byzantine period to that of Louis Seize, of that distinguished collector Ralph Bernal as:

“The celebrated Lady Johanna Abergavenny, in a crimson dress with yellow sleeves, a gold head-dress embroidered jewelled girdle ornament her dress; she holds a pink in her left hand – in tortoiseshell frame – half-length – 16 in. by 12 in.”9

I’ve been unable to trace its whereabouts after that but art historian Dr Bendor Grosvenor states in his blog post on the subject that it is not lost and that he’s seen a colour photograph of it. He was asked to look into whether it might be Anne Boleyn and he explains: “Our belief at the time was the sitter was most likely not Anne Boleyn, though the tedious thing is I can’t now remember all of our conclusions. There was nothing in the way of provenance, or traditional identification, to lead us down that path. As far as I recall, there was no matching necklace in any Royal Tudor jewel inventory. But I do remember paying attention to the other motifs in the headdress, and not being able to connect any of them to Anne Boleyn.”10

Prints of Lady Bergavenny

As I have said there are several prints based on the portrait and they are all rather different – see above. As well as the one belonging to Howard Jones (top left), which he describes his as “a Victorian antique print, or Mezzotint” dating to after the 1842 sale, there are the following versions:

  1. Bottom left – Joanna, Lady Bergavenny, gray wash:13.7 x 10.5, by G P Harding, from A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole, 1784 (Kirgate’s extra-illustrated copy), Strawberry Hill Press. From
  2. Bottom right – Joanna, Lady Bergavenny, stipple:18.9 x 14.1, by S Harding after G P Harding, published 1798. From
  3. Top right – An Italian version by Innocenzo Geremia in the British Museum which dates to 1806, stipple: 188mm x 140mm. It is described as “Portrait of Joan, Baroness Bergavenny; half length looking to left; wearing English gable hood, golde girdle, cross and embroidery decorated with her initials, and holding flower; illustration to Walpole’s “Royal and Noble Authors”. 1806
  4. A colour version of Mr Jones’ engraving by Henry Shaw in the British Museum (see main picture at the top right of this article) which dates to c. 1820-1868, colour, aquatint: 245mm x 185mm. It is described as “Portrait of Joan, Baroness Bergavenny; half length looking to left; wearing English gable hood, gold girdle, cross and embroidery decorated with her initials, and holding flower; from painting at Strawberry Hill.” It also says “Lettered below image with title”. It was acquired by the museum in 1868. click here to view it on the British Museum website.
  5. Watercolour version (see below) – from
Lady Bergavenny, watercolour
Lady Bergavenny, watercolour

As you can see they are all very different – in style, in the appearance of the sitter and also the details shown in them. I think they tell us more about the era in which they were produced than the portrait they were based on. One interesting difference is the necklaces – with some not showing the letters and the later versions, the coloured British Museum one and the one belonging to Howard Jones, having the letters A, B and R, rather than the A and two Bs described as being on the necklace in the original portrait.
That’s as far as I’ve got somewhere with my research on the prints and original portrait.

“Clues” in the print

Howard Jones, in an email to me, wrote of the print having clues that pointed to Anne Boleyn as the sitter. I assume he was referring to the letters, which he took to mean Anne, Boleyn and Rochford, and that Weir takes for Anne, Boleyn and Regina, and the gillyflower, also known as a pink or carnation. Flowers, plants and trees, in medieval times and Renaissance art, were used as symbols. Think back to Ophelia in Act 4 Scene 5 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts….”

In The Garden of the Renaissance: Botanical Symbolism in Italian Painting, Mirella Levi D’ancona writes “According to custom spread from the Netherlands, the carnation, or its variation, the pink, was worn by the bride on the day of her wedding and the groom was supposed to search her and find the pink. For this reason the pink or the carnation became a symbol of marriage and were often shown in pictures of newly-weds or betrothed.”11

In its description of a 16th century painting known as “A young man holding a carnation”, the Victoria and Albert Museum state: “Carnations or pinks, especially when red, were symbols of betrothal, probably originating in a Flemish wedding custom. In portrait painting especially of the 15th and 16th centuries, when held in the sitters hand it signifies betrothal. A similar, earlier example of the Italian type is Andrea Solario’s Man with a Pink ca. 1495 (London, National Gallery).”12

According to another source, gillyflowers are also “associated with springing from the Virgin’s tears and therefore presage the Passion of Christ. The Virgin of the Pinks depicts Christ holding them in his hand.”13 Still another source gives the following meanings: red carnation: my heart aches for you and admiration, white carnation: innocence, love and devotion, pink carnation: I’ll never forget you, yellow carnation: you disappoint me, rejection.14

Art historian Melanie V. Taylor gives examples of other portraits depicting sitters holding pinks. The first is Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks, which you can see at and which is now in the National Gallery.

Arthur, Prince of Wales
Arthur, Prince of Wales

In the Hever Castle portrait of Arthur, Prince of Wales, he holds a similar flower (see above). This portrait was discovered in the early 1990s and is by an anonymous member of the Anglo-Flemish School. Dendrochronology supports the idea that this was painted at the time of Prince Arthur’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Van Eyck’s painting of c.1436 of a man holding a pink was also probably painted to celebrate a forthcoming marriage, which demonstrates the visual trope of using a pink as a symbol of marriage – see
Likewise, it is possible that the Holbein’s portrait of Georg Gisze now hanging in Gemäldgalerie, Berlin also contains references to a forthcoming marriage by the vase of pinks on the table, but like all things Holbein, this painting has much more than a simple visual aid to the sitter’s marital status – see

The only thing that I’ve found about these flowers being linked to coronations is an article on carnations on Wikipedia which says: “Some scholars believe that the name “carnation” comes from “coronation” or “corone” (flower garlands), as it was one of the flowers used in Greek ceremonial crowns. Others think the name stems from the Latin “caro” (genitive “carnis”) (flesh), which refers to the original colour of the flower, or incarnatio (incarnation), which refers to the incarnation of God made flesh.”15 Perhaps the name comes from “corone”, but I haven’t found any 16th century link between the flower and coronations.


I have known Bess Chilver, a costume expert and re-enactor, for many years now and I contacted her as soon as Alison Weir shared her Ebay find on Facebook. We’ve been discussing the sitter, her costume and jewels ever since, as well as sharing our thoughts on social media. Bess is working on a detailed article about the sitter’s costume and jewellery, and I will share that when she has completed it. For now, I can tell you that Bess’s knowledge of costume of the period – and she has also discussed this with other costume experts – means that she can date the costume to between 1520 and 1525 and it is the costume of a wealthy and high status lady. What is the evidence for this?
Jane Seymour-Hans_Holbein_d._J._032b

  • The shape and style of the English gable hood – The hood worn by the sitter in these prints dates to the early 1520s. The gable hood evolved over time, just like the French hood. As you can see in the prints, the lappets (the bands that you see hanging down) almost brush the shoulder. By the 1530s, as you can see on the Holbein portrait of Jane Seymour and the 1534 Anne Boleyn medal, these were much, much shorter.
  • The neckline – The sitter’s dress has a much narrower square to its neckline than the wider neckline Anne is wearing in the medal, and which was fashionable in the 1530s. If you look at the National Portrait Gallery portrait of Anne Boleyn, which dates to her daughter’s reign, you can see that the neckline is so wide that it is almost off the shoulder.
  • The white bands – If you look at the prints, you can see that the sitter has a band of white fabric coming down over each shoulder and ending just below the bust. These bands were fashionable in the 1520s but had disappeared by the 1530s. Anne is not shown wearing them on the 1534 medal, Jane Seymour does not wear them in her portrait and Katherine of Aragon starts to lose them in the late 1520s/early 30s.

Anne Boleyn Medal

Anne Boleyn, National Portrait Gallery
Anne Boleyn, National Portrait Gallery

If the print is a coronation portrait, as Alison Weir states, then Anne Boleyn is extremely unfashionable – she is wearing fashion that is ten years out of date! Would a queen allow herself to be depicted wearing out-of-date clothes? I don’t believe so. She would have the wealth and status to be up-to-date and she would be setting the fashion.

But could it be a 1520s image of Anne? Well that doesn’t make sense either, unfortunately. Bess points out that the sitter’s costume, with all the embroidery on the hood, and her display of jewellery shows that she is a wealthy and high status woman. In the early 1520s, Anne Boleyn was not high-status. She didn’t become a marchioness until September 1532. But wasn’t her father a king’s favourite and a wealthy man in the 1520s? Yes, but his daughter just did not have the status to be painted in this way. Bess explained this really well on Facebook so I will quote her words here:

“There were many people who were wealthy. The first Millionaire lived in Lavenham and was a Merchant of wool, though he too was also knighted. However, what then comes into play is something called Sumptuary laws. These were strict and were designed to ensure that people dressed according to their status in life. A gentlewoman, daughter of a mere knight, does not dress as if she is a duchess. It would be insulting to those at court. Thomas Boleyn, though he maybe wealthy, is still not in a position to rock that particular boat even in the 1520s […] dressing his daughters to rival the Queen at the time is not one is he is going to risk. As a Maid of Honour (NOT lady in waiting) the girls would have also been expected to dress to a specific standard and not step over that line to be better dressed than others who are higher ranking than they are. It was one thing to be spoken of as one who stands out due to cut of dress (Anne did have more French styled gowns) but it would have been a completely different thing to have been spoken of because one is dripping in jewels and fabrics that are above one’s station in life.”

The Jewellery

As has been pointed out, the sitter shown in Mr Jones’s print is wearing a necklace with a central A and then a B and an R. I know from my own research into Anne’s jewellery that a list of “Certen jewelles of the Kinges highnes which be trussed and inclosed within a faire deske of wodde, maser colour” (LP xii. Part 2. 1315) included rings and jewels with H.A. on them, a ring engraved with MOSTE (Anne’s motto was The Most Happy) and a brooch with R.A. in diamonds for Regina Anna. There were also rings with H. I. for Henry and Jane, an I being used in that period for a J too. It was fashionable in Henry VIII’s reign to use letters or ciphers in jewellery, and Henry also made use of them in buildings. We know that Hans Holbein designed a number of pieces of jewellery and ciphers with letters entwined. In the 15th century, Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, was painted with a B pendant, very similar to the B of Anne Boleyn’s famous B necklace, attached to her head-dress so they were fashionable then too.

However, letters did not have to be related to the person’s name. As Bess pointed out in her Facebook comments to people saying things like “it must be Anne because of the A and B”, letters in pre-Reformation England could have religious significance and could be abbreviations for Latin phrases relating to Christ, such as the “IHS” that Jane Seymour is depicted as wearing in her portrait. The “IHS” monogram refers to the Holy Name of Jesus. An intertwined A and M could be used as a monogram of the Virgin Mary with Auspice Maria meaning “Under the protection of Mary”. As Bess, notes, an ‘A’ on its own “could refer to ‘Alpha’ for all we know”.

While Anne Boleyn could make use of an R after her marriage to Henry VIII, when she is Anne Regina, she couldn’t have made use of an R in the early 1520s. Her father may have become Viscount Rochford in 1525 but Anne was not entitled to use the title of “Lady Rochford” then as only the daughters of dukes, earls and marquesses could style themselves as “Lady ….”. Only from December 1529, when her father was made Earl of Wiltshire, could Anne call herself Lady Rochford. Bess explains that Thomas Boleyn’s elevation to earl “allows his daughter Anne to be style Lady Anne Rochford as she takes the surname from his secondary title of Viscount Rochford. His son George is styled by that secondary title so becomes Viscount Rochford”.

But the letter R isn’t even in the original portrait! As I said earlier, the description of the original portrait says that the sitter “wears a splendid necklace, which has an A in the centre and at each side a B standing for Bergavenny”. So, let’s forget about the R.

What about the “A” and “B”s? Surely, they scream Anne Boleyn! Well, no, they don’t. If they aren’t religious ciphers then they are more likely to be family names, i.e. surnames or titles. I was discussing this with art historian Melanie V. Taylor and she said that we have to remember the status of women at this time. She explained to me that a 15th or 16th century woman is not going to draw attention to her first name, she is going to draw attention to her family name and title as that is what she was defined by. Mary Brandon, Baroness Monteagle, is depicted wearing an M necklace not for Mary but for Monteagle, and Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgdundy, wears a B for Burgundy. An A in the centre the necklace, and so the prominent letter, might make sense for a Queen Anne, but not for a noblewoman named Anne.

Lady Monteagle
Lady Monteagle
Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy
Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy

And what about the “I”s and “A”s on the hood? Why would Anne Boleyn use an “I” (which was also used for a “J”)?

Age of sitter

We don’t know Anne Boleyn’s exact birth-date but historians believe that she was born in the first decade of the 16th century, with 1501 and 1507 being the dates argued. As we have established through dating the costume, if the missing portrait is contemporary then it was painted in the early 1520s. Anne returned to England from France in late 1521 or very early 1522 when she was either about 20/21 or 14/15. At this time she was a young woman in her prime, not “a woman in middle life” which is how the sitter of the original portrait was described in 1842.
If we set aside the dating of the costume and go with Weir’s idea of it being a coronation portrait, then Anne would have been about 32 or 26. You might call that middle-aged for the Tudor period, but would Henry and Anne want Anne, the new queen, depicted as middle-aged and a frump too? Portraiture was propaganda, it wasn’t about realism when it came to royalty.

And why is her pregnancy not obvious? I’m sure that 16th century costume could hide a pregnancy quite well but Anne was 5/6 months pregnant in June 1533 and her pregnancy was a huge deal, so wouldn’t a coronation portrait have celebrated this? Anne’s coronation procession alluded to her pregnancy and fertility – her falcon badge, with the falcon on a tree stump from which white and red roses spilled, a pageant with St Anne surrounded by her children – and the monarch’s crown, the crown of St Edward, was used at Anne’s coronation which has been taken by some to signify that Anne’s unborn child was actually being crowned. Where are the allusions to pregnancy and fertility here?


There were many, many comments on social media when this engraving was shared about how it looked like Anne. People were posting it side by side with various portraits of Anne Boleyn, forgetting that none of these portraits are contemporary. Unfortunately, we don’t know what Anne looked like. The one authentic contemporary image of Anne is the 1534 lead medal which is significantly damaged and, as G W Bernard points out, “is consequently not that helpful as an indication of her appearance”.16 Lucy Churchill studied the medal in detail to make a beautiful replica and the late Eric Ives wrote of how Lucy’s replica “has brought us as close to the real Anne Boleyn as we shall ever be able to get”. As Lucy states on her website, “we can deduce that Anne Boleyn clearly had a long face with high cheek bones, and a prominent chin”,17 but we can’t tell more than that. How can we compare this engraving to the medal? All four versions are very different – just look at the noses for starters.

Howard Jones pointed out the swelling on the neck of his version and I’ve also seen comments about this online. I don’t believe the sitter does have a swelling – there certainly isn’t one in the other versions – but even so, that does not point to it being Anne Boleyn. A now-lost, hostile anonymous account of Anne Boleyn’s coronation states that “She wore a violet velvet mantle, with a high ruff (goulgiel) of gold thread and pearls, which concealed a swelling she has, resembling goitre” but it also says that “a wart disfigured her very much” and “her dress was covered with tongues pierced with nails”, descriptions that don’t fit with any of the other contemporary accounts of her coronation or her appearance.18 Nicholas Sander, a Catholic recusant writing fifty years after Anne Boleyn’s time as queen, wrote of how Anne wore high-necked dresses to cover a swelling on her throat, but he also described her as having an extra finger and a projecting tooth. Sander was only six years of age when Anne was executed and he never met her. His description, again, is not backed up and Anne was not known for wearing high-necked dresses.19


At the end of the day, we’re discussing a mid to late 19th century copy of a portrait we don’t have at the moment, although Bendor Grosvenor knows that it is still in existence and has seen a photograph of it. He states that there was nothing in his research – and he IS an art historian and an authority – that linked it to Anne Boleyn. Grosvenor writes: “The picture was once at Strawberry Hill, and we must tempted to assume that if there really was any historical chance this sitter might have been Anne Boleyn, then those old iconographical optimists of the 18th and 19th Centuries would have labelled it such” and I have to agree with him. We don’t know what information came with the original portrait. Did it become known as Joanna, Lady Bergavenny, because of the letters alone or was there a provenance that supported that identity? We don’t know. The letters do fit that identification – the prominent “A” and “B”s for her family name Arundel and title Bergavenny, and then the not so prominent “I/J” for Joanna or Joan. But then the costume dating might not point to Joanna, in that she is said to have died around 1508. It could be a posthumous portrait though.

When I contacted the British Museum about Mr Jones’s print and the prints they have in their collection, they stated: “we stand by the identification given on the database of the two prints”, i.e. Lady Bergavenny.

It turns out the portrait is not lost anyway, it’s in a private collection, and also this print owned by Mr Jones is not a discovery, the British Museum acquired their coloured copy of it in 1868 and it’s in their department of Prints and Drawings.

In my opinion, and I know Bess Chilver and Melanie V. Taylor agree with me, there is not one good reason to re-identify this image as Anne Boleyn. The “clues” in the prints do not point to Anne Boleyn – the costume is wrong, the age of the sitter is wrong, the letters are wrong, the status of the sitter is wrong… If it is meant to be Anne Boleyn then it has been painted much later by someone unaware of the costume of the period and the rules governing what people wore. I can’t say it’s definitely not Anne Boleyn – I don’t have the portrait and I am not a qualified art historian or Tudor portrait specialist – but my research and the expertise of those I’ve contacted regarding the print do not point to it being Anne. Further research into the original portrait is needed.

I will share Bess Chilver’s article as soon as she has finished it – stay tuned!

Other articles on this (I’ll add them here as I find them):

Update: Alison Weir has just written an article on her website too – scroll down the page at to “A new image of Anne Boleyn?”.

Notes and Sources

A big thank you to Bess Chilver and Melanie V. Taylor for their help and advice with this article. Thank you also to the British Museum Print Room.

  1. ‘Lost Boleyn head’ rolls up on eBay, The Sunday Times, 10 April 2016, The lost head of Anne Boleyn? Expert says 16th century artwork which turned up on eBay is portrait of Henry VIII’s second wife Mail Online
  2. Photo of a print: Anne Boleyn portrait from the Holbein Room at Strawberry Hill,, March and April 2016, seller:thimble21, Howard Jones.
  3. The Sunday Times, 10 April 2016.
  4. Researching Early British Portraiture and Understanding the History of Ownership
  5. A description of the villa of Mr. Horace Walpole, youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole Earl of Orford, at Strawberry-Hill near Twickenham, Middlesex. With an inventory of the furniture, pictures, curiosities, etc.
  6. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.
  7. The Gentleman’s Magazine by Sylvanus Urban, Gent., Volume XVIII, July to December Inclusive, London, William Pickering, John Bowyer Nichols and Son, 1842, p. 148.
  8. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.
  9. Catalogue of the celebrated collection of works of art, from the Byzantine period to that of Louis Seize, of that distinguished collector Ralph Bernal
  10. A new lost portrait of Anne Boleyn?
  11. D’Ancona, Mirella Levi (1977) The Garden of the Renaissance: Botanical Symbolism in Italian Painting, L. S. Olschki.
  12. A young man holding a carnation,
  13. Symbols and Meanings in Medieval Plants,
  14. Flower Meanings A-Z,
  15. Dianthus caryophyllus, Wikipedia.
  16. Bernard, G W (2011) Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions, Appendix: The Portraits of Anne Boleyn.
  18. LP vi. 585
  19. Sander, Nicholas, Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism (1585), p25.


  • Joanna, Lady Bergavenny, courtesy of the British Museum, made by Henry Shaw c. 1820-1868, colour aquatint, museum number 1868,0208.233.
  • Photo by Claire Ridgway of the photo that was sent by Howard Jones, the owner of the print.
  • 4 images – top left is Howard Jones’s print; top right is Lady Bergavenny by Innocenzo Geremia, 1806, courtesy of the British Museum, museum number 1868,0208.233; bottom left is Joanna, Lady Bergavenny, by G P Harding, “in A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole, 1784 (Kirgate’s extra-illustrated copy) .Strawberry Hill Press”, from; bottom right is Joanna, Lady Bergavenny by S Harding after G P Harding, published 1798. From
  • Lady Bergavenny, watercolour, lot 76, Criterion Auctioneers, from which shows it lying down, photo manipulation by Tim Ridgway.
  • Arthur, Prince of Wales, Hever Castle portrait, from Wikimedia Commons.
  • Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein the Younger, Wikimedia Commons.
  • Anne Boleyn 1534 medal, British museum, museum number M.9010.
  • Anne Boleyn, National Portrait Gallery, Wikimedia Commons.
  • Mary Brandon, Lady Monteagle, Bartolozzi after Hans Holbein – I own a copy of this.
  • Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, Wikimedia Commons.

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143 thoughts on “Lady Bergavenny turns into Anne Boleyn?”
  1. Anne wouldn’t have been known as “Lady Rochford” at any time; that would have been her mother, and later on her sister-in-law. Lady Titlename is the style of a peeress by right or marriage, not an earl’s daughter. Earl’s daughters are Lady Firstname.

    1. Charlene – Thank you for your simple explanation of the Lady title. Being an American, titles have always been a bit of a mystery.

    2. Yes, I would agree, she would usually be called Lady Anne Boleyn or Lady Anne. The Lady Rochfords I found in the primary sources in the 1520s were referring to Elizabeth Boleyn, wife of Thomas Boleyn and mother of Anne Boleyn, but I haven’t checked the sources from 1530 onwards to see if she was ever called Lady Rochford, or whether Mary Boleyn was called it.

      1. I respectfully disagree that she was never known as “Lady Anne Rochford”. I was under the impression that she styled herself Lady Anne Rochford as a courtesy title after her father became Earl in 1529 and before she was created Marquess/Marchioness of Pembroke. As you mentioned Claire. And yes, I have seen it quoted from several primary sources like Letters and Papers, mentioning purchases she made etc.

        I do agree this portrait is not Anne, you’ve made a very clear, well argued and detailed breakdown of your reasoning, Claire!

        1. You are right Queli in that Anne was able to style herself The Lady Anne Rochford after the 8th December (to be precise) 1529, however she cannot be styled Lady Rochford as that is a married name.

          Titles were important in the time period but the fact she may or may not have styled herself Lady Anne Rochford does not provide proof of this painting being her.

        2. Claire. Unlikely Mary Boleyn would be referred to as Lady Mary Boleyn or as Lady Mary Rochford.

          She had been married so was Mistress Carey and subsequently Mistress Stafford. I can’t find any reference to William being knighted but he may well have been and I’m not really looking that hard. His father was knighted but that title is not inheritable and though William was apparently wealthy, he was just a second son.

          Certainly William Stafford (Mary’s second marriage) was not knighted till after Mary’s death so she was never Lady Stafford.

  2. Remember when Alison Weir was convinced Anne Boleyn was pregnant when she was executed? I believe she made the argument in “Henry VIII: A King and His Court”, though she later retracted it in “Lady in the Tower”. I enjoy her books but it seems that she is so eager to make a discovery that she rushes to conclusions instead of exploring further evidence.

    1. I totally agree, and I was thinking of that exact same example before you posted. I find many of those conclusions highly unconvincing, though like you, I enjoy reading her.

  3. Nothing new here — Just another article by Claire which she attempts to discredit other authors. You are not a historian Claire, nor does it make you one by association since you need to say “so and so would agree with me”.

    This article is only missing the exorbiant amount of exclamation marks, then it would equal the writing style of your “books”.

    Poor Anne must be rolling over in her grave about all the rubbish you post in regards to her. Time for a new career?

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Denise, and I like what I do so won’t be changing it based on your opinion. I’m not discrediting another author, I’m disagreeing with one. Authors and historians in the history world disagree with each other, that’s what they do. Eric Ives and G W Bernard disagreed, quite vocally too, Alison Weir disagreed with Julia Fox quite vocally in her book on Anne’s fall, John Guy disagreed with Alison Weir in a review on her book…. It’s what happens when people publish theories, they put them out there to get feedback. I’ve never claimed to be a historian and I’ve never tried to be one by association. I’m a researcher and writer and I work hard at what I do, simple as that. If that offends you then that’s fine. I won’t be wasting any sleep over your opinion of me, I’ll just get on researching and doing the due diligence I do.

      1. Claire you are a historian and a very good one, your articles are well researched and well presented. You don’t need a silly piece of paper to be a historian. You need to know your subject, research and study your subject, be passionate about your subject, refer to other people in your field, balace and evaluate the evidence and be knowledgeable about the subject. From what I have seen, you do this all the time. You are a historian, nobody has the right to say otherwise. I enjoyed this post, it was very interesting and enlightening, you have done a lot of work in a short period of time and deferred to other experts in this field. This makes you a good historian. I can’t wait for your next book. Take care. Lyn-Marie.

        1. Thank you, Lyn-Marie, that is so kind of you to say. I am very passionate about Tudor history and love what I do so I’m not going to be put off by trolls. Thank you!

        2. I agree with Lyn Marie. We are extremely fortunate to have Claire provide us with historical facts, data and others’ opinions and poi ts of view. Any time I hear of a new article or information related to the Tudor time/people/etc. this is the first place I come to in order to get the facts. Thank you, Claire!

        3. I agree as well, you’re very good at what you do Claire. I often check your articles for reference as I come across new theories or statements from other authors, and always find them (yours) to be clear, thorough, unassuming and in depth. There is no reason to think your research is inadequate because you don’t have a certain status (as a historian), you obviously spend a lot of your time trying to uncover the truth. That is why I enjoy following the Anne Boleyn files, and your other work on tudor times, for a few years now. I hope you can go on for many more years, because the world of history needs some level-headedness (exclamation mark!) 🙂

        4. Thank you, Hanne, and all the other AB Files commenters that have left such kind messages. I do try my hardest to be level headed and to reference my work carefully so that sources can be checked and readers know what I’m basing my work on, as well as the theories that I have. I’m sure that I will carry on for many more years, I don’t have any intention of stopping! I love my work.

        1. Yes but rudeness isn’t acceptable still as you say who cares what people like her think, you have a lot of support and admiration from your regulars as well as a lot of other authors and historians too.

        2. I think nasty comments show more about the commenter than the person they’re aimed at, that’s definitely how I look at it. My article wasn’t a personal attack, it was simply disagreeing with a theory and that’s that. Thank you, you lords and ladies just don’t know how much I appreciate your support and also your input on this website.

    2. and Denise, can you offer the readers of this page some CONSTRUCTIVE viewpoints? Do you have any data to share which might shed light on the mystery? If so, please provide them, I am sure we would all be very interested in what you have to offer….

    3. I don’t usually comment to this kind of mess, but I find it interesting that while you rudely attack the work of Claire Ridgway, you do nothing to add to the discussion of the portrait relative to your own opinions and reasons for them. As someone who has the great fortune to enjoy a friendly and congenial rapport with both Claire Ridgway and Alison Weir, I welcome the diverse opinions and knowledge both of these brilliant women offer us all. Claire and Alison do not need to agree to provide intriguing possibilities.

    4. Denise, I’m genuinely curious as to how you can dismiss this well researched article as ‘nothing new’, simply because of you believe Claire does not have the right to challenge Weir? That seems to me to be illogical. Do you think this portrait is Anne? Do you disagree with Claire’s research? If not, why? I would be interested to see whether you have an opinion other then simply spewing bile.

    5. You are entitled to your opinion Denise, but Claire is also entitled to hers. Whether you agree or disagree with it is your own affair, but that doesn’t give you the right, to vilify her and insult her intelligence.
      She is a very committed historian and deserves your respect for all that she does in the historical field, even if, as I said you don’t agree with her views.
      That said, can you offer us a different viewpoint from your own perspective?
      By the way I m not a historian in the real sense of the word, with all the fancy bells and whistles, and letters after my name, nor do I pretend to be. But to borrow your phrase, “so and so will agree with me” I do know my history.
      And yes I do know my spelling and puncuation is an absolute nightmare, but anyone reading what I post reads beyond the spelling mistakes and bad grammer to the opinion or viewpoint I am trying to make.

    6. Denise, what qualifications does Alison Weir have to identify portraits? None at all. She’s a good writer, but no-one in the history world takes her seriously and you come across as her PR manager in your criticism of Claire’s actions in rightly questioning this portrait’s re-identification. Maybe you should acknowledge that Alison Weir should not jump to conclusions about portraits without doing some painstaking research, as most respectable historians do.

  4. I am not able to find any research on this woman, but I would be curious if this could perhaps be a painting of the infamous “Lady Bulstrode” that is mentioned several times in Henry’s Privy Purse expenses of these times.

      1. I’m finding a lot of mixed info on the various genealogy pages. There’s a “Lady Bulstrode” mentioned three times in Henry’s Privy Purse expenses for sending various items to courts such as cheese, apples and a buck from their own lands, but their history seems very choppy. They did, however, marry into the Hungerford families and the Norreys. Would be interested to know if it could correspond to the 2 B’s as well, as there was a marriage between Sir William Bulstrode and an Agnes Norreys, of Bray. Might be a reach but interesting, nonetheless!

  5. Anne surely would cease to have the use of her surname once she became queen, using A R or Anne the Queen, plus as Marchioness of Pembroke would she not have used her title rather than her name be it Boleyn or Rochford? As Charlene has pointed out would not her mother use Lady Rochford and her sister in law as George’s wife be Lady Rochford? I know nothing about costume, save the hood does not appear correct for some reason and the provenance does not lead back to the original painting. What a shame that the original painting is missing, as this is the best clue for telling us if it’s Anne or even from the time, identification of the texture and paint materials used can tell you who painted it, but alas we don’t have it. Historians can be too over exited about claims of lost paintings, discoveries, documents etc, without having them fully examined first. I can see why, though, everyone wants a genuine image of Anne Boleyn, but as your excellent work shows, Claire, we have to be careful about claims in newspapers and by sellers as things are not always as they seem. It is still an interesting item to research, though.

    1. The original painting isn’t missing, Dr Bendor Grosvenor has seen a colour photograph of it, it’s just in a private collection rather than being on display or in a museum collection. Perhaps he’ll find the research he did on it. Yes, it would be wonderful to be able to actually date the picture itself.

      I’m not an expert on titles, but Anne definitely wouldn’t have styled herself Rochford in the 1520s.

      I think it’s a wonderful image in its own right. Bess loves it too as she thinks it’s a wonderful example of a portrait of a high status woman – all those jewels and the details on the hood, exquisite!

      1. Ooh thanks for that information. It’s a wonderful portrait in its own right and a nice print too. Thanks for your assistance.

        1. I entirely agree Banditqueen.
          Since I really want to see what Anne Boleyn looked like, I must admit that this portrait, showing features matching with depictions of this queen and above all an EXPRESSIVE face and lively look AT LAST, could easily pass for the sangreal I looked for.
          Only my opinion – as a child, when taught about “Anne-glicanism” at school, it was rather sth upon which I had no control (just a picture in historical books to fancy about).
          Years later (I prayin advance, excuse this shameless confession), as a (law)student I had the misfortune to lose my mother.
          She used to teach english, having had an “agrégation” in litterature and civilization in particular.
          As u can guess, when considering my level in english and my obvious lack of knowlege in history, I have nothing left by my side to be proud of.
          Nothing left as gift, but one thing, I am very demanding.
          And what leads me to consult your site Claire is the high-quality and caution with which you approach matters and carefully answer readers’ questions.
          When there is some debate between both of you (mean Claire and Banditqueen, but could well aplly to Christine and others as well), I take lessons.
          When you fully agree with one another, you of course have no need of an approval coming from me (for the aforesaid reasons).
          Being nowadays sort of “à la Recherche du Temps Perdu”, I want to thank you again for your always accurate way to show information to your readers (especially when they happen to be as crass ignorants as I am).
          Because I never found sth equivalent (ok, now I have stopped searching).
          Even if I show some harshness to KH, I am of course aware he was a perfect “Renaissance Prince” exactly like “our” Francis I and if both men, in their privacy would not always show the wisdom they were supposed to take from antique examples, their reigns when it comes down to philosophy and arts brought some lights for many minds then – and now…
          So, when in such a good way (even if a long one for me), an obscurantist troll appears, I find it just laughable; I wont insist on its excess (“exorbitant” – lol!) recalling the famous word of Talleyrand (“Ce qui est excessif devient insignifiant”) .
          That sudden and gratuitous try rather makes me think of “Alice in Wonderland” – when the so-to-say queen sentences her guest to death, even the little girl can see how ludicrous this majesty of playing cards.
          Again, accept my gratefulness for the generosity and accuracy you provide in your posts and explanations, Madam .
          With my sincere best wishes

        2. Thank you, Bruno, and thank you for your regular comments on The Anne Boleyn Files. I haven’t been as active on the site as usual recently, with regards to replying to comments, and I do apologise for that. I’m trying to get book research done and time is very limited at the moment. But thank you so much for your interaction here. I love running this site and am so grateful for the feedback I receive here and the way that people can use it to discuss history with each other.
          Thank you and very best wishes to you.

  6. The sitter appears to have a slightly broader face than the Hever one and the NPG one but that could just be the artist, the eyes and mouth do look alike particularly the eyes as they were quite distinctive, it would be so exciting if we have found a lost portrait of Henrys most infamous Queen as we can then at last find out what she truly looked like, maybe more pictures will turn up?

  7. This is a bit off topic, but I am puzzled by something in one of the novels about Anne. I believe it was The Other Boleyn Sister. The author represents Anne’s siblings making fun of her motto The Most Happy. Their argument is that Anne is totally stressed out and quick-tempered. Now, with my small knowledge of the times, I am sure that this motto is not referring to what we call happiness, but that Anne is stating that she is the most Appropriate (to be Queen). If anyone has found this meaning of the word in the 16th century, please comment.

  8. I agree with you 100% Clare, I was fooled at first (although doubtful – given that it is an engraving of an earlier portrait and therefore subject to embellishment) but the costume details alone now convince me that the sitter is not Anne. Great detective work by all concerned!

  9. Fascinating! I think the woman in the portrait is lovely, such fine lines. I like all the detective work involved in all of this hoopla. I do think the woman looks older and I wonder if Anne might have looked something like’s so hard to imagine her from the different portraits, none of which were contemporary….and I really think the coin is hard to imagine even after having seen the reconstruction. But sadly, no two-dimensional representation can capture the essence of Anne’s person…that spark that attracted men is hard to see in any of the portraits…Thanks, Claire!

  10. Denise is very rude & appears unable to express her views without denigrating the person she is addressing. It is the height of arrogance to suggest another person should chose a new career based on her view of history. Her snide snipe at your books is further evidence of her lack iof class. Could she be Hilary Mantel in disguise

  11. Thanks for posting on this; while very much an amateur myself, the details about the headdress were the first thing that leapt out at me as being highly unlikely for a coronation portrait from 1533; the lappets aren’t quite Elizabeth of York length but they’re not 1530s length, either. As for the jewelry, well, there are only so many letters in the alphabet and they can stand for an infinite number of things. Surely Anne wasn’t the only well-born woman walking around with significant letters on her jewelry!

    I’m surprised Alison Weir identified it so confidently, but then again she’s the one who said that Anne was pregnant when she died and also that she had two brothers survive into adulthood, not one, so I wouldn’t take her word for any discovery which wasn’t confirmed by other, more reliable sources. But hey, no such thing as bad publicity, right?

  12. Excellent article! Ignore the jealous trolls.

    It’s fanciful, but I was wondering if the “A”s could have a meaning akin to that worn by Chaucer’s Prioress:

    “And therefrom hung a brooch of golden sheen
    Whereon there was engraved a crowned “A,”
    And under, Amor vincit omnia.”

      1. And maybe be a reason for the odd looking and similar “A” that Elizabeth wears in the 1545 painting of Henry VIII and his family (though the Queen he had then was Katherine Parr, but he has Jane Seymour painted).

        I would like to do research onto that style of “A” – its very odd and has a Greek look to it though it doesn’t seem to be a Greek Letter. However, discussion on the costume itself is a first start.

        1. The A is very similar to the A in the only surviving HA monogram at Hampton Court, which is what firstly drew my thoughts to Anne Boleyn. But it might just be a common way of writing capital A’s at the time for all I know…


        2. Thank you for that, Nan. Yes, it does indeed look like an A. I am wondering, given the fact that the young Elizabeth wears an A in the Henry VIII family portrait, that the A was of religious significance rather than standing for “Anne”. Previously, I had thought that Elizabeth was wearing a pendant that had belonged to her mother, but she was only 11 or 12 when it was painted and Bess Chilver pointed out to me that even of Elizabeth had wanted to wear something belonging to her mother that those helping her dress and advising her, and people like Catherine Parr, would never have allowed her to wear it as it would have risked angering the king.

  13. Claire, THANK YOU for your excellent research completed thus far on the portrait in question. It is very very tempting to make quick deductions about early portraits just because they do or don’t resemble how we believe the sitter to have looked. BUT, to really answer the pressing questions we have – in this case about Anne Boleyn and how she actually appeared – there is no other way but to utilize a scientific research-based approach. That entails digging, comparison with other available datapoints, determining provenance to the best degree possible, cross referencing, and conducting peer review with other experts. That is how scientific determinations are made and held to be truth. All of this takes TIME. You have made a remarkable start, not only following a logical path, but importantly – providing your readers with your sources! As for the assumption that the sitter is Anne Boleyn, you have shown that there are just too many erroneous clues to continue to consider it her portrait.
    When it comes to a topic of interest this broad, it is really important to take the time, and especially to provide necessary due diligence before making sweeping statements about assumed conclusions.
    Thanks you again.
    So, then, the question still remains: IS there an official portrait of Anne hidden somewhere in the world, still unbeknownst to us all?

  14. Brilliant article, Claire. Congratulations on great research. And to Bess and Melanie. As for Denise, there’s always someone!

  15. It is very unlikely Anne even had a swelling in her neck, as well as her sixth finger and protruding tooth. Tudor portraits would often hide such blemishes anyway and the sources of them are all made after her death (if memory serves correct) by hostile writers.
    I too purchased the photo out of curiosity, and was surprised (if a little disappointed) that it was only a detail; I was expecting the full print. I sense a money spinner but all in all, I do like the portrait for itself and has opened up a fascinating discussion.

    1. Why are we even discussing a sixth finger and a swelling on the neck? These things are accusations that are NOT contemporary but were written up as a vile bit of political propaganda by a Nicholas Saunder? He chose to cast Anne Bolyen in the guise of a witch and gave her these deformities as a means to do so. People in period believed that physical deformity equaled sexual deviance and evil. Henry had enough enemies that would have remarked on Anne’s unfitness by deformity. Henry would not have married someone that “tainted”. Could we please stop mingling Saunder’s filth into an already complicated research on a life supressed? Chasing the reality of Anne’s life is difficult enough as it is. No aliens, witches, or ghostly hares need apply.

      Back to the topic at hand, Weir is an interesting lady but I stopped expecting proper research from her years ago. I’m glad she’s finally writing fiction where most of this junk belongs. I had expected far more from her, but as this latest debacle shows, she still doesn’t do her homework.

      Claire as a side note here. You are a historian, learn to accept it. There is more active research on these pages than some of the so called experts’ books.

      As for the painting, there are a few things to consider. Is the original really original? The was a trend for later copies ‘all dressed’ up. Walpole, bless him, was an antiquarian but in the first generation of that word. And with all the things that implies in terms of gullibility and chicanery! I have seen many “period” paintings that I find extremely doubtful including that related portrait of Catherine Parr whose out of date clothing and woodeness of countenance raise alarms for me.

      Holbein spoils us with his almost photograph qualities. We forget that other artists are not so talented. Trying to reconfigure Anne’s actual appearance from these works is rather like trying to make a three dimensional image out of a bunch of skewed images of Mickey Mouse.

      The next thing to remember is that the details that you are debating, such as the jewels on the necklace may not be original. They may be over paints to make the portrait more interesting. If you have a moment I would like to draw your attention to and the excellent article on the photoshopped Medici princess. It’s worth the time and the gasps of amazed horror!

      And Denise, not the nice one – the other one, when you’ve done even a fraction as much as Claire has to raise the level of discussion and research into the real life and times of Anne Boleyn, then maybe you could gripe. Since you have nothing to say except jealous vinegar, go play in your own sandbox until you learn some manners. I don’t always agree with what’s here on this site but nothing give you or anyone the right to be a public nuisance by attacking someone personally on their own site. Claire generously builds, maintains, updates, and PAYS for this forum which she graciously allows us to play in. Even were she far less of a historian than she is, she would deserve to be respected for that alone. As she is a historian who is willing to actually do the work and not clep off of Strickland or others, she deserves better than your pitiful comments. If you have actual points to debate, go ahead, that’s what Claire built this forum for. But if all you can manage is to call everything worthless and be rude to the owner here then you have no place at this table.

      1. Hi C.A.,

        Thank you for your comment.
        The neck swelling keeps raising its ugly head. The seller of the print used it in the information he sent me with the print as evidence that it was Anne and I saw one author/blogger using it as such on Alison Weir’s Facebook page. It’s very frustrating. Chapuys would definitely have raised it in his dispatches – he had no problem telling Charles V about Jane Seymour’s shortcomings.
        I’d love to see the original painting. The prints are all very different so we don’t know which is closest to the portrait or if any of them are close. I collect Victorians engravings and prints and many of the ones that are “after Holbein” etc. are very romanticised copies and not at all accurate copies. They are more “inspired” than copied.
        Thank you for your kind words. The whole historian issue is one I grapple with. I know some people are strict over the term and only like it to be used for people with doctorates, those who are academic historians, whereas others are quite happy to use it for anyone who studies history. It’s a tricky one and I don’t want to offend anyone, which is why I tend to call myself a researcher and writer.
        Thank you again for your comments. I am still researching this topic and Bess Chilver is also still working on the costume and jewellery side of things.

  16. Great article, Claire! Curious … was it common to use letters as decoration on the hood or were letters used more often for jewelry instead?


  17. The first thing that struck me whilst reading this article is the incredible, meticulous research and the attention to detail. Let’s not forget also the sheer perseverance and dedication that this kind of writing takes. Claire, I’m in awe of you. (Sorry about the gushing!) But I truly am. Thank you for taking the time to write and to research about this topic, this Queen, that we are all so fascinated with.

    I think I too agree with your conclusion- while it would be incredible to find a portrait of Anne (and who more than this forum wants to find one, right?!), we musnt overlook the research and information placed before us.

  18. That gable hood is amazing. I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever seen any with that density of embroidery. I wish I could see the original portrait so I could figure out what is on those rectangular plaques. If squint one way, they look like they could be a bust of a man and if I squint the other way, they look that there might be an elongated knot motif of 6 crossings. The six-sided thing that looks a hexagonal sand dollar reminds me of some of the six-sided pilgrim badges from Canterbury, Rome and Mt. St. Michael – but that’s probably reading too much into the embroidery patterns.

    The necklace is also intriguing. Those beads or stones with the intaglio quatrefoil sit on what looks to me as a knot of six loops and six crossings. The knot element does not match any of the known heraldic knot badges, so again I’m likely reading too much into the knot element.

    The six-petal flower motif on the necklace with the vertical figure 8 is interesting. If you look carefully on the “print” Mr. Jones is selling, they look like they have rays or an en soleil motif behind them – which really leaves me wanting a good look at the original and not a copy. Of course, the en soleil motif was a favorite of Edward IV for his royal badges. Henry VII also used a Tudor rose badge that was sometimes en soleil. But an en soleil sexfoil charged with a vertical figure 8 knot? I can’t find anything like that in my pile of heraldic sources though my library of those is not as complete as it could be.

    It does bug me that there is a repetition of things with 6 sides on the hood and necklace. Given that I can’t identify any of those 6-sided things as a known badge, it’s probably is just coincidence.

    The little intaglio quatrefoils are on both the necklace and the jeweled band on the gable hood so these were made to be worn as a set – and that’s more evidence that the sitter is of very high status to own such a matched set.

    This makes me wonder if we’re looking at a portrait of someone in their Field of Cloth of Gold clothes, and if the sitter might possibly be a French noble wearing English fashion for one of those endless banquets…

    1. IDoc Clark
      I am delighted that you found the designs in the print so intriguing. I have just sent a note to Bendor about certain issues.
      For some reason the NPG has removed their 1806 print of the Lady Bergavenny picture from their digital gallery.. Pictures of Anne Boleyn keep going astray.
      I wonder how long ago Bendor saw the photo?
      I offered readers of Art History News a guinea off any print or photo over £70.00.. It seems only fair to make the same offer to readers of Claire’s Anne Boleyn Files. who buy a print or photo off my Ebay. for over £70.00.

      1. The image has been missing from their website for a while, they have various catalogue entries where the image is missing. Please refrain from advertising your photos/prints on this site. I would caution anyone against spending £70 on a photo of a print and £1000 on a print when you can buy prints of images that are supposed to be Anne Boleyn for far less. Obviously it’s up to people how they spend their money, but that would be my advice.
        Bendor is a lovely man, isn’t he? Very knowledgeable about Tudor art.

  19. I hope no one confuses me with the “Denise” of the earlier, disrespectful comments. I am Denise Hansen and a great fan of Claire’s work.

  20. Could this be a distant relative of Anne’s – maybe a cousin who isn’t in the records because she didn’t attend court, or otherwise draw attention to herself? She KIND OF resembles Anne, as we imagine her to look in the famous portraits, but Claire is making VERY persuasive arguments that this is NOT Anne Boleyn.

    I’d love it if this WERE a newly discovered portrait, for certain. But I’d love solid proof that it IS Anne even more.

    ACK!! It’s so frustrating that so many portraits are NOT clearly labeled, in some way, as to the identity of the sitter. We are left, sadly, to guesswork, and the occasional mistaken identity, such as the full length portrait of Queen Katherine Parr which was misidentified for many years as the Lady Jane Grey.

  21. It’s just so sad that Henry had all Anne’s portraits destroyed after her execution, I bet there were some lovely ones done of her, maybe if this portrait doesn’t turn out to be our Anne it could well be a relation of hers, I think she had an aunt by the same name, sister of her father? But because of the richness of her dress and the elaborate jewellery that must be ruled out to, the sitter does bear a resemblance to Anne, this is so frustrating!

  22. I love this website! So many knowledgeable people who love Tudor history and even if we’re not professional historians, let’s not forget that it was ‘mere amateurs’ who pinpointed where Richard III was buried! At first sight I too saw a likeness to many portraits that claim to be Anne Boleyn. Her clothing is all wrong for Anne (too fine and too early in date) but could she be a descendant of the Howard family? It is annoying that it is not named but then, how many of us today have photographs with no reference attached to who is in them? We know who they are but the next generation? The more things change, the more they stay the same!

  23. Thank you Claire for another very thoughtful and in depth article. Thank you Bess and Melanie for your contributions.
    Denise, if you have evidence that Claire is wrong, please tell us instead of sniping at the author.

  24. I was looking at the portrait and realized it reminded me of someone, but the conclusion is not possible. I realized that the lady reminded me of a picture I had seen of Elizabeth Howard, Countess of Wiltshire, Anne’s mother, but not a portrait but the actress who played Elizabeth in I believe Anne of a Thousand Days, although it may be another film. The picture has appeared on several websites about Anne or her mother, as there does not seem to be sn actual portrait of Elizabeth Boleyn which is identified. However, some sites have another portrait of an unknown woman, very rounded face, beautiful dark curly hair, lovely eyes, which is being said to be Elizabeth Boleyn. If so, there is a resemblance to her daughter Mary and some copies of assumed portraits of Anne, dated later than her death, show Anne with a similar small rounded face.

    One portrait identified as Anne Boleyn is believed to date from 1527 to 1529, by Lucas Hornebolte, but this has been seriously questioned by Ives, although he does discuss the possibility of her patronizing him in 1534. He did paint Henry and Katherine of Aragon, but Ives believes that the possibility of Anne Boleyn as his patron is remote. Ives believes that the coin/medallion struck in 1534, is a good likeness. He also questions some of the famous alleged contemporary portrayals, suggesting Anne may not have sat for the Holbein portrait, a drawing of her has eighteenth century lettering, the other, which because of it’s alleged association with John Cherke, the tutor of Edward Vi, was said to be genuine, Ives questions as Cherke made other dubious identifications at the time. Ives looks at many other paintings, including the 1618 one, but only gives crediance to the medallion…The Moost Happi from circa 1534.

    I have had a close look at the 1527 Hornboulte. I find myself in two minds. The portrait could be of Anne, the painter was around the court at the time, but the age is wrong, the sitter id about 25. Now that for me is not a problem as Anne Boleyn would be about 26 then if you accept the 1501 birthday, but if the portrait was later, would it not be more accurately stated as a royally commissioned painting? Then it struck me that this painting is similar, save for the age, in many ways to the painting that we are debating? The face is different shape, but as we don’t know what Anne Boleyn looked like, as even descriptions of her vary, wildly, especially on the colour of her hair, but the portrait could be of a relative, as somebody else suggested. The portraits seem to be of a similar looking woman at two ages. Could this be the missing portrait of Anne’s mother? I am not saying it is, but on a hunch and some reading, I think this lady is Elizabeth Boleyn Howard, Countess of Wiltshire and Mother to Quern Anne Boleyn. I think that the portrayal of Elizabeth by actresses is based on this portrait, which is why they look like this. I am not stating this is Elizabeth Boleyn, I just at this time believe it is a strong possibility.

    I would love to know if a genuine likeness of Elizabeth exists. Of course the painting could not be from 1527, it would need to be earlier, but the artist for the alleged Hornebolte has never been confirmed either. Another painting mystery. What do you think?

    1. Cool idea! It seems that there must have been at least one portrait of Elizabeth, Lady Boleyn. Perhaps it is this one.
      Do you think it makes sense that ALL portraits of Anne were destroyed?
      Or do you think some survived and were hidden???

    2. Banditqueen, please can you post a link to the Horenbout image of Anne (disputed). Perhaps we can throw some more light on this one. Are you thinking of the Yale miniature (by Susannah Horenbout – as argued by Dr Susan James), or are you thinking of another one? Howard Jones and I have had an email discussion about the Yale miniature – he thinks it is of Princess Mary, but the real answer is that we don’t know who it is. David Starkey thinks it may be of Jane Grey! (2007).

      Regarding the wearing of initials. I believe the postmortem portrait of Anne showing her wearing a B has more than one meaning? Yes, perhaps B for Boleyn, but also B for Beatus meaning “happy, most fortunate”. This would link with the obverse of the 1534 medallion. The pearls are an ancient symbol of purity – it was an ancient symbol for purity even in the 16th century! Put the two together then a visual statement of innocence and virtue adds to the layers of meaning of this particular B. You could say that the use of three pearls symbolises the Trinity, therefore the message could be read that the wearer is innocent before God and she is a Boleyn, especially if this were painted after Anne’s downfall and execution.

      In other words there were far more many meanings wrapped up in these jewels than first meets the eye and again, we are left to puzzle their possible meanings because no one has left us any written clues!

      The family group where the two princesses are shown outside the close family space is labelled as being by The British School. Whoever painted this would have been given portrait templates to work from and would not have had access to any of the sitters. It was displayed in last year’s exhibition Painting Paradise (Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace) and I was within 6 inches of the painted surface. What struck me was that all of the royals portrayed have been given blue eyes and we know that Elizabeth had brown eyes. This demonstrates that there was not much supervision as to the accuracy of this portrayal of the royal family.

      Likewise, the artist(s) would not have had access to any of the jewellery so it is unlikely the jewellery shown is anything that was actually worn by the princesses. This particular painting was created as propaganda. The princesses are outside the space because Henry had his male heir and therefore the girls were only relevant as marriageable assets. We should not give a huge amount of credence to this painting being accurate portrayals of the royal family, their jewellery or their wardrobe.

      The attribution of sitters is a minefield and is constantly being debated by art historians, historians and all of those who read the AB files. I feel this EBay seller is more concerned with filling his wallet than adding to the fount of historical knowledge that all of the contributors to the AB files do so brilliantly. So far the BM & the NPG have not changed their attributions to “formerly known as Joan Bergavenny”, so clearly they are not convinced by this claim either. As for Denise, you have to feel sorry for someone who can only criticise and not engage with all the wonderful discussions that take place here and on

      1. Hello Melanie, I will need to find it again in my bookmarks but I will certainly give a link tomorrow. Thanks for asking, the portrait I think was by Lucas Hornebolte an active early portrait painter in the 1520s at Henrys court, but any expert opinion would be helpful as the painting is disputed. Of course it may just be me, but I just have this theory. Thanks for your assistance.

        1. Dear Claire,
          I repeat that I had an emal llast week fromt the NPG. saying they are withdrawing their identification of the Lady Bergavenny print with Lord Abergavenny’s first wife Joanna Fitzalan.
          The NPG and British Museum may share the coloured Aquatint which Claire shows at the top of her site.
          The NPG said that some of their archives are in the British Museum. So I am not sure whether they have one aquatint each, or share one between them..
          The NPG also has the 1806 print named Lady Bergavenny, see NPG no.D25593. If one Lady Bergavenny print is re-attributed they should all be re-attributed.

        2. I too have been in correspondence with the NPG and they don’t believe it to be Anne Boleyn but they say that they are also not sure that it’s Lady Bergavenny because of her dying before 1515 so they are changing the identification to “Unknown woman, engraved as Joan (née Fitzalan), Lady Bergavenny”.

      2. Hello Melanie, You have misunderstood what this is all about. I took this print to the British Museum where it was incorrectly claimed to be a work of Victorian fiction. I=They were wrong.
        Art historians are terrified of any approach which involves any sort of facial recognition.
        Art historians have argued for a hundred years that ancient Egyptian artist could not do individual portraits. We can now reconstruct the faces of the Royal Egyptian mummies and we can see that the ancient Egyptian artists produced outstanding portraits
        My main reason for putting these prints on ebay was to start a long overdue debate about the identity of the sitter in this portrait. I think it is fare to say that at least has been achieved.
        In the paragraph above you claim that the NPG has not changed their attribution for their Lady Bergavenny print. This is now incorrect.I was an email by the Curator of Prints at the NPG saying that they would no longer be identifying this print as Lady Abergavenny. It was also noted that the costume for the composition dated to around 1530. Last time I looked their 1806 Lady Abergavenny print had been temporarily withdrawn from their digital gallery.

        1. The image on the NPG website was missing before this. I used their website over two weeks ago and it was not on there now. They have various images in their collection which are not viewable on their website.
          I don’t think Melanie has misunderstood what this is about at all.
          What do you mean about facial recognition? All we have is the 1534 medal.

    3. Most interesting.
      It allows readers not to be left disappointed, waiting for a faithful portrait of Anne at last.
      You make so much exciting suggestions …
      When seeing Elizabeth I’s features, I tend to believe that she took after her mother’s on this matter.
      Her face is rather narrow and longish (like is her nose) whil her chin is not at all at variance with her father’s.
      Her high forehead, she does not take after her father’s either.
      I think that the National Gallery portrait gives a good image of what Anne Boleyn could have looked like (mother and daughter had not the same charm, but it does of course not mean they had nothing common; it would be most surprising instead).
      The photo showing the lady above is so near this “thought-after model” (even if with finer features than Elizabeth I), that searching around Anne’s mother could be a very good assumption, I guess

      1. Hi Bruno Elizabeth did indeed take after her mother, and not just feature wise but like Anne she loved the company of men and flirting, she could also be hysterical at times and be quite vindictive, as when she refused Mary Of Scots a safe passage home, Anne as we’ve seen had those traits too as she was quite cruel to the princess Mary, they were very generous to those who were good to them and both mother and daughter were extremely loyal to their friends, yet exacted revenge on their enemies, Anne especially was a particularly dangerous adversary as both Wolsey and Cromwell found out, from her father Elizabeth inherited her fair Tudor colouring, as well as the Welsh love for music, from this enigmatic portrait I can see Elizabeth as well as Anne, it’s strange but Bandit Queen said it reminds her of an actress and it reminds me to of Kristin Scott Thomas who played Elizabeth Boleyn in ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, they both have the rather sharp features.

        1. Hi Christine, always a pleasure to be given the opportunity of discussing with you deep or lighter matters (like is the case by now, it is week end, time to relax)
          Yes Welsh are Celts and as such could not help be fond of music.
          Kristin Scott Thomas is one of my fav actresses (not only because she speaks fluent french …), her features show energy rather than sth sharp (in my opinion) and I find that her cheekbones make her face sth dignified.
          Very expressive and of course always right in her so different roles
          On the photo shown above, the sitter seems to have magnificent dark eyes.
          And a fascinating look
          Exactly the point on which agree the fewpersons who met Anne Boleyn.
          So why not a relative – an why not her mother indeed ?

  25. Thank you Bruno, I just wonder what the late lamented Eric Ives would have made of this portrait. I’d love to hear what he had to say, he was a brilliant historian.

    1. As you know, I am rather the wrong man to answer such a question.
      Even if of course it echoes sth in me about “lost voices” and personal quests .
      One thing sure : brilliant spirits fecundate others’ minds.
      Nostalgia is just maturation, not an aim in my opinion.
      But you definitely attracted my attention about Eric Ives.
      Thank you Christine for this track

  26. Assuming that the portrait is that of Joan (Joanna) FitzAlan, Lady Bergavenny, it is perhaps not surprising that there is a resemblance to Anne Boleyn as Joan was a direct ancestor of Anne. The line of descent is as follows:

    Joan FitzAlan, wife of William de Beauchamp, 1st Baron Bergavenny
    Joan de Beauchamp (married James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormand)
    Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormand
    Margaret Butler (married Sir William Boleyn)
    Thomas Boleyn, Ist Earl of Wiltshire
    Anne Boleyn

    In other words, the debate is whether it is Anne Boleyn or her great-great-great grandmother. I think it is a posthumous portrait of Lady Bergavanny.

    Let me take this opportunity to thank you, Claire, for your site. You are an expert! I enjoy reading your posts tremendously and gain invaluable information about Tudor history. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

    1. Note: Please consider this post as a continuation of my previous post, which I posted prematurely.

      Of course, the other Joan FitzAlan, Lady Bergavenny, could have been the daughter of Thomas FitzAlan, 17th Earl of Arundal, who was married to George Neville, 5th Baron Bergavenny. In this case, she was a distant cousin of Anne’s as Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundal was a common ancestor to Anne Boleyn, Joan FitzAlan (wife of William de Beachamp), and Joan FitzAlan (wife of George Neville). I think the portrait in question is a posthumous picture of Lady Bergavenny, the wife of George Neville.

      1. Hi Anita Jose, yes you are right, it seems we have to choose between Joan Fitzalan and Anne Boleyn
        The first of the two Joan countess Beauchamp of Abergavenny was a direct ancestor to our Anne Boleyn .
        The second (married to a Neville of Abergavenny) a distant cousin instead. In the latter’s case, a likeliness with Anne is not impossible, but rather assumed.
        However, both ladies had died far before the 20s .
        The first in…1435
        The second in 1508 (it seems)
        And I still find unlikely that an artist entrusted by a noble family to paint a posthumous portrait so many years after could take the risk of showing details such as detailed facial features and expressiveness .
        Instead, the late lady’s portrait would certainly have been somewhat “idealized” (whith just a dignified countenance and of course what mattered : the symbols of her belonging to the most noble families)
        I can’t be positive, you can guess, but I tend to believe this lady was neither Joan Fitzalan nor Anne Boleyn

    2. The Lady Bergavenny believed to be the sitter of the portrait these engravings were based on was Joan FitzAlan, daughter of Thomas FitzAlan and Margaret Woodville, and wife of George Nevill, Baron Bergavenny, so same name but a different lady.

      Thank you for your very kind words, I’m so glad you enjoy my articles.

      1. Not kind, but sincere words rather.
        I already told what this site brings to me – your accurate explanations (and sometimes useful corrections) help me to drive my “clichés” out.
        But, in a more general way, the readers use the word “WE” (are fortunate, grateful …).
        I do think that it must be a hard work for someone making her own books.
        And it is all the more generous of you, to “popularize” your search.
        Not only titanesque, but really promethean indeed.
        We are all given so many examples of alleged experts who think their knowledge is all the more worthy that it won’t be shared – too vulgar, perhaps ?
        Since I would museums to be open to anybody, I enjoy your work and respect much your aims – might be grandiloquent, but this site does contribute to public interest.

        1. Thank you, I do appreciate your support and encouragement. I love sharing my work on here for feedback, which I receive instantly through social media and comments on this site, whether they’re good or bad. It helps me to grow as a researcher and writer. It is very hard work but I love it.

  27. On her alternative Boleyn site, Lissa Bryan claimed, after the Lady B. picture had been on view for just a few days, that this story and any hint of a connection with Boleyn had had it.

    If you compare the three pearls worn below the A on the necklace in my Lady B print with the three pearls in Lissa Bryan’s logo, they appear to match exactly. Perhaps you should take down the logo lissa.. Its incriminating evidence.

    1. I don’t know why you’re talking to Lissa on here, this site isn’t Lissa’s. By your way of thinking, Howard, then the portrait of Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, is Anne Boleyn because the B pendant she wears on her hood veil is the same as the B pendant that Anne is shown wearing on all of the Elizabethan portraits of her.

    2. My logo is a photo of my own necklace (which I purchased in 2014 through the Anne Boleyn files, BTW.) I can assure you it never belonged to Anne Boleyn or anyone connected with her.

      Perhaps your comment is evidence of the danger of attempting to identify portraits based off of spurious connections.

  28. Well I hope Lissa B reads your site Claire.
    I sent a message to Bendor asking when he was shown the photo of the Strawberry Hill painting. Are we talking 1970s, or a few years ago.. I don’t know if he will put my note on his site.
    I have offered Art History News readers a guinea off the price of any of the prints or photos on ebay.
    I think it would only be fare to make a similar offer to readers of The ANNE BOLEYN FILES

  29. That should have sad any print or photo over £70.00 on my ebay site, but still if it relates to thiis story I can be flexible.
    But to be seriousi if anyone goes to the print oin ebay, they can see all parts of the printb in fairly minute detail when they use the Zoom option.
    So for instance they can see the line of tiny Fleur de Lys which run right along the upper edge of her dress.

    1. Howard, I have asked you very politely to stop advertising your photos and prints on my site and if you carry on then I will block you from the site. This is a thread for a discussion of the article and images, not a chance for you to sell your image.

  30. I’ve just discovered a wonderful picture of Anne Boleyn in the attic. She is wearing a lovely ‘A’ necklace, a charming headdress, and a lovely white dress. She is also holding a carnation (well a bouquet of them actually). Admittedly she looks very like my mother, Audrey, on her wedding day, but in any event I’m putting it on ebay for £1.5 million.

    1. Hi Clare well done and if I am allowed to say, very british.
      Some humour when it s raining bombs (casus belli ? the identity of a high-rank sitter).
      Claire, your job (to dare make a point on experts’ debate) is dangerous.
      Was it Hegel who wrote that History presents dishes first in a tragic way, twice in showing all the comic strings of the fact ?

      1. Not sure my humour was intended to provoke a case for war! With regards to Hegel, as my knowledge of philosophy tends to be limited to Freud, and as Hegel’s main achievement was apparently the articulation of idealism, I think I’ll probably do best to back out of this discussion while the going’s good!

        1. It seems I was misunderstood – not the first time, my english is not good enough.
          On the contrary, I wanted to pay tribute to the right perspective of yours.
          One can’t prevent warriors to find cases of war where they are not, that is all.
          I think laughing is the better way out instead.

        2. This time you caught me; so, well done again Dr Freud (I feel much better now)!
          Humour is appropriate while it is raining (fake) bombs .
          Thanks for yur nice comment I don’t deserve (what is left in my english may sound school-like, old fashion and so on, as in fact I forgot nearly all about post-positions, preterits, I sometimes hardly understand the posts !…So you can guess : how would I manage with a diplomatic point ?)
          Your e-bay proposal made laugh a lot however !

        1. By the way, your English, and knowledge are probably way better then mine! I too think humour is a great leveller.

  31. I don’t understand the swelling in the neck conclusion. Didn’t Anne Boleyn tell Constable Kingston that the executioner wouldn’t have much trouble with her as she “had a little neck”. I’ve always associated Anne with a long swan like neck, not a swollen neck? Unless she was using self-deprecating humour to lighten the mood in the tower why would she draw attention to a flaw in her looks like that.

    1. Hi Diane Watson,
      It happens I have been told of this word Anne would have said about her neck.
      Marie de Lorraine, french princess, had known it too, as she, being sought after by KH, would have answered “Je suis de grande taille, mais mon col est si petit”.
      Tall size, but with a little neck – same words.
      We can discuss about the meaning of “little” in this case – frail rather than “short” ?
      (I indeed believe like you seem to do that Anne Boleyn had a rather “swan-like neck” ).
      Lighten the mood ? I read now and then that Anne could be “hysterical”
      Since I detest the word, I remember who she was – a “little girl” used to charm anyone in a quick, so probably prone to joke in a desperate try to get not only attentions but real feelings; even “in articulo mortis” love and admiration (for being both so funny and heroic) are a good “final act” (it does of course not mean she accepted this fate at all) .
      I feel it was “her mark” .
      I don’t know if she really was disappointed by Wyatt’s reaction. towards her
      But it sounds like she was, like many temptresses, unsatisfied with others’ feelings.
      (self-deprecating humour is to be considered indeed)
      Might be a reason why a king’s heart would seem “reassuring” (while to anyone else it is a dangerous place instead) .

      Personally, I don’t give a dam’ about Anne Boleyn’s so-to-say physical defects

  32. I am trying to comment on the description of the portrait in the article to which you make a link . It says that ‘gillyflower’ is another name for a carnation or pink. I have always known it as another name for a wallflower, a completely different plant.
    As a point of interest in the symbolism of ‘carnation’ it might be worth noting that in French, one’s ‘carnation’ refers to the colouring of one’s face.

    1. Hi Rachel,
      The word “gillyflower” is associated with both the wallflower and carnation. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says “Gillyflower, also spelled gilliflower, any of several scented flowering plants, especially the carnation, or clove pink (Dianthus caryophyllus), stock (Matthiola incana), and wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri). However, the gillyflower of Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare was the carnation.” There is an interesting article at
      The flower of the Lady Bergavenny portrait is described in Ralph Bernal’s inventory as “a pink” and it matches the pink of Arthur Tudor’s portrait. I do love the word “gillyflower” and the fact that it was used to represent Guildford Dudley in the beautiful Dudley carving in the Beauchamp Tower of the Tower of London, a lovely play on his name.

      1. Much complete and interesting indeed.
        I used to think that “carnation” only referred to a “Dianthus” species (l’oeillet).
        Rachel Bowen you are fully right, as in french the word “carnation” only means sth like “skin-complexion”.
        But I noticed that by ancient poets, the very near word “l’incarnat” (no more used) would apply to the colour of a lady’s face as well as to a rosy-to-red flower in general

        1. The language of flowers and plants is fascinating and I love the bit in Hamlet when Ophelia is talking about the plants and their meanings. Flowers have even been used to send coded messages.

  33. Goodmornig, 4am I have just looked at the NPG site for the 1806 print of Lady Abergavenny..
    The printb D25593 was foremerly described as a portrait of Lady Abergavenny. Now it reads:
    Unknown woman, engraved as Joan (nee Fitzalan) lady Bergavenny.

    So the NPG. has changed the designation of the sitter to ‘unknown woman’. Now we just need to establish the true identity for the sitter in the Strawberry Hill painting.
    I know that Claire likes to keep up to date with such developments and I am sure Anne Boleyn Files readers will be intrigued by this development

    1. Yes, they had changed that yesterday. I have been corresponding with them about it. They do not believe it is Anne Boleyn but they now feel that the costume dating may not match Lady Bergavenny either. It’s wonderful that all our discussions on the dating of the costume have led to this.

  34. Howard, you say on ebay that new evidence has come to light which confirms this portrait MUST be Anne Boleyn. If the NPG’s change in designation to ‘unknown sitter’ is the new evidence you rely upon to make that comment, then clearly that is incorrect. I would invite you to remove the comment. To suggest this portrait is definitely Anne Boleyn, without that being properly verified, is false representation. As you know, false representation is fraud, and fraud is a criminal offence.

  35. Thank you Claire. If everyone who had made a false claim about Anne Boleyn and Tudor portrait’s was put in the Tower of London it would be bursting at the seems.
    The claim that the Lady drawn by Holbein, who may or may not have been depicted in her night gown is Anne Boleyn. is incorrect.
    I believe the sitter in this drawing is blonde and she looks a lot like Jane Seymour, but it has not stopped art experts from claiming it must be Queen Anne..
    I would be delighted to provide you with this new additional evidence supporting the identification of the Strawberry Hill painting with Boleyn. But you may have to be patient and wait a while.

    1. I think you meant to reply to “Clare”, but reading Clare’s comment I really do agree with her. The difference between you and experts theorising that a sitter is Anne is that they are not trying to sell something on eBay for £1,000 claiming that it is Anne, plus they are art experts. Your listing states that it is Anne Boleyn, it does not say “unknown woman”. It is misrepresentation and it is knowing misrepresentation in that the British Museum have stated that they are standing by their catalogue listing of “Lady Bergavenny” – and you can see their coloured version of your print on their site with that identity – and the NPG do not believe it is Anne either. If you have new evidence then that should be part of the eBay item description. Simple as that.

    2. You are now stating as a fact that this is Anne Boleyn and you are doing so in order to make money. That is false representation and I have reported you to Crime Stoppers. You cannot say for a fact that it’s her, and if you had categorical evidence then no doubt you would be declaring it out loud. By the way, I am not Claire Ridgway, but I am concerned that you are making money out of false pretences and must be stopped from conning vulnerable people.
      “If everyone who had made a false claim about Anne Boleyn and Tudor portrait’s was put in the Tower of London it would be bursting at the seems.”
      Is that an admission?!

    3. I don’t think she looks anything like Jane Seymour, this lady has a narrow nose and large eyes, Janes were small and she had a much broader face than Anne, it’s really the eyes that makes me believe it could be her as her eyes were very well known, as I said before quite distinctive, but it can see no facial resemblance to Jane at all.

      1. Well Observed, Christine – even if I d’ think Jane’s eyes are narrow rather than small.
        Insignificant chin and broad cheekbones make her face appear large and short indeed.
        The drawing which Howard Jones is referring to (if of course I am not mistaken) does not show (only an opinion of mine) a blonde woman but her head-dress is of a clear colour indeed .
        Your notice about the well-known eyes and look of Anne Boleyn made me think that the portrait re-identified (shown above) had sth with Anne Boleyn indeed.
        But I am probably too anxious to find what the lady really lokked like to avoid seeing her even where she is not.

  36. .I am sorry Clare, but who is Clare, Claire.
    The identity of the sitter in this print will continue to be debated, but one thing we know is that the claims regarding the identity for their Joanna Lady Bergavenny prints at the British Museum’s and the Lewis Walpole Library’s are incorrect. Perhaps Clare should tell them that she thinks that they might be in danger of false representation.
    I suspect that they will both have to fall in line soon and withdraw any claim that the sitter from the Strawberry Hill picture was Lady Joanna Abergavenny.
    I am not sure that Bendor Grosvennor will withdraw his claim that the Holbein drawing is a portrait of the real Ane Boleyn. In my experience Bendor is in no hurry to correct past mistakes in his work associated with portraits of Anne Boleyn.
    However we all hope that Bendor can remember who showed him the photo of the original Strawberry Hill painting, and hope that the painting that was lost, will soon be found.
    Perhaps you could ask Bendor and Co. for the dimensions of the Anne Boleyn Rose portrait from Hever Castle. I suspect the figures given at the Lost Faces Exhibition claiming the portrait was 31ins in height are incorrect,

    1. I am Claire Ridgway. Claire with an “I” and I am the owner of the Anne Boleyn Files. Clare is a solicitor.

      The engravings from the Lewis Walpole Library and the British Museum have “Lady Bergavenny” written on them, that is who the 18th and 18th century engravers thought they were drawing from the portrait, so cataloguing them as such is not misrepresentation. These collections and galleries also don not have an agenda, they are not trying to sell them. They are going on what these engravings say on them and the identity that was given at the sale of the original portrait in 1842. You, meanwhile, are stating that it is Anne in your eBay listing as a fact, when it is your opinion, and you are asking buyers to just believe your new evidence, without actually stating it. Alison Weir, who was the person who first highlighted your image, states on her website an identification of Anne is “conjectural”.

      Regarding Bendor, he is a an art historian and portrait specialist, so any ideas he puts forward should be considered. There is no reason for him to correct his identification of the Holbein sketch and as he states in his article on it, he was not the one to put forward that identification, he was restating an earlier suggestion by John Rowlands and David Starkey, who have both done extensive work on Tudor portraiture agree. It has Anne’s name written on it and it was written on there by Sir John Cheke, who would have seen Anne, so their argument is compelling and holds water whether others agree with them or not. And anyway, Starkey, Rowlands and Bendor are not trying to get anyone to buy a print of it for £1,000 based on their word. They have put their arguments forward in articles for peer review and do not hide anything. Your listing title is “Anne Boleyn Print, after a painting from the Holbein Room at Strawberry Hill”, which is a statement and I agree with Clare that it is a misrepresentation when the NPG are saying “unknown woman” and the British Museum state that they are standing by their identification as “Lady Bergavenny”. No art authority is agreeing with you.

      I think you’d need to contact Hever Castle about the size of the Anne Boleyn with a rose portrait. I’ve seen it many, many times and have photos of it but cannot remember its size. It could well be 31″ in height as it’s not a small one. I can’t remember. You can contact them through their website, they are always very helpful.

  37. Dear Claire,
    I have contacted Hever Castle who confirmed that they were aware that the measurements for the Hever portrait given for the Lost Faces Exhibition were incorrect. The Exhibition was I believe hosted by Philip Mould and David Starkey, while Bendor edited the catalogue or associated book (available circa £69.00), in which the incorrect measurements are given. Bendor quotes from the catalogue in Art History News. My understanding is that the picture is nearer 23 ins in height, though I have had some difficulty obtaining a definitive answer.
    I am familiar with Bendor’s expertise from his work on Fake or Fortune on TV. I look also look forward to reading his informative and very readable jinternet art journal Art History News which is great.
    However where Anne Boleyn is concerned I think he is less reliable.
    I have worked hard trying to discover the correct identities for numerous Tudor portraits including the Bergavenny printt. There are still numerous instances where they are being provided with the wrong identification.
    As yon note above, I believe the miniature which David Starkey identifies as Lady Jane Grey, is a miniature portrait of the Princess. Many the future Queen of England. That is why it looks just like Mary.
    However I do suspect that David is correct with his ‘discovery’ that the Duke of Buccleuch minature that has been called Catherine Howard,for one or two hundred years, really is Catherine Howard. The clue was in the name.

    1. If this is right, it would mean that this pretty miniature by Holbein (this one and its “Windsor version”) would be the only faithful picture of Catherine née Howard ?
      I am quite an ignorant in this experts’ debate, but I know that many portraits of famous sitters have been misidentified (sometimes, because a name had been added many years after the painting’s or drawing’s execution, and in any case nt by the painter himself).
      The clue is not always the name, it seems (well I am am sincerely happy for queen Catherine indeed : this miniature shows a rather attractive and expressive woman, far from the stupid doll some authors seem to be anxious to show us)

  38. Hello,
    Clare, but not Claire and your comment 20th April 3.46pm.
    I think it would help if we tried to provide illumination instead of trying to start conflagration. History is often concerned with opposing opinions and argument.
    As Bendor will tell you certain works of art are now being sold for up to £100 million. The Titaians in Scotland may be saved for the Nation at a similar cost to the Tax payer. Do you think you it is fare to be paying that much for such paintings? Do you wish to report the seller to Cirime Stoppers?
    If I was charging £100 m,,, or £1million, you might have a case, but if this is Anne Boleyn, and I believe it very likely that it is, the prints may prove to be good value. for money.

    1. There is no illumination here. You are deliberately falsely authenticating your print in order to deceive the public, with a view to making money. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for 1p or £1.5 million. That is not opinion, that is now a matter for the correct authorities.

  39. Dear Clare
    I am hoping to put a new ‘new’ Tudor picture on the site soon, so lets us hope that we can agree about the identification of this next portrait.
    You are presuming that I do not have additional evidence, that is incorrect, Claire kept telling me that the NPG would not change their attribution for the sitter for the Lady Bergavenny print, but they have. The 1806 print is no longer identified as Joanna Lady Abergavenny.
    If instead of being negative about the portrait you could study the the print which, has other designs of interest in addition to the length of the lappets, perhaps you could come up with an alternative identification. Where should we start Queen Catherine, Lady Rochford Senior, Mary Boleyn, George Boleyn’s wife, Jane Seymour or Jane Seymour’s Sister.
    So far this appears to be a one horse race. If you wish to establish that this is not Anne Boleyn it might help your case if you are able to provide some sort of alternative.
    If, or when that the original painting is found, we may all be in a better position to, judge.
    Do you believe Bendor, who has claimed that he was shown a photo of the original Strawberry Hill.painting.
    If Bendor claims that the painting still exists I believe what he says. What do you think Clare? Do you believe him..

    1. Smoke screen, Jones. You say nothing in defence of the allegations raised against you, that you are stating as fact that your print is Anne Boleyn, when you have no basis for doing so. That is a fraudulent statement. You are a charlatan, and I am not wasting any more of my time on you.

    2. “Claire kept telling me that the NPG would not change their attribution for the sitter for the Lady Bergavenny print, but they have” – erm, I was against them changing it to Anne Boleyn. I think “unknown woman” is fine as we don’t know who she is. The NPG and British Museum have both said to me that they do not believe the sitter is Anne Boleyn and, yet, you are claiming it. There is no evidence at all that it is Anne, nothing.
      Where should we start? With a woman who as wealthy and of high status in the early 1520s – or earlier if it’s posthumous – which would rule out Mary Boleyn, Jane Boleyn and Jane Seymour. We’re looking for a duchess, countess, or baroness. As Lissa Bryan pointed out, it still could be Lady Bergavenny, just a posthumous portrait.
      Regarding Bendor, yes, I believe him, he has no agenda, he’s not trying to sell something. I have no reason not to believe him.

      1. I agree that what Mr Jones does is not fair because we don’t know who it is for sure. No one of us has seen the original painting yet to say something more on the matter, but some comments here directed at Mr Jones are appalling. “Charlatan”, really? Why don’t you react, Claire? It speaks bad not only about Clare but also about you and your blog – because you give your consent to throw offences down at Mr Jones. Adult people shouldn’t act this way. Leaving the issue of the identification aside, behavior of Clare is as much disgusting as what Mr Jones does and you should react Claire Ridgway – because one can think you are so biased in favour of these who agree with you, that you let them offend people who don’t share your opinion. This way your platform loses credibility.

        1. Hi Gina,
          Thank you for your comment. It’s tricky to be the admin of a blog like this where people are passionate about topics, where feelings can run high and where I don’t censor people’s comments. It really is a hard balance to strike. I don’t like offensive words or attacks on people and I always act on complaints from the parties concerned, but have had no complaints in this instance from the parties involved.
          I don’t think Clare was attacking Mr Jones, as such, they were each giving as good as they got, and Mr Jones was also questioning Dr Bendor Grosvernor’s professionalism and expertise in his comments. The definition of “charlatan” is “a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill” and in this case I do think it has been used correctly, although I would probably go with “opportunist”. From my own experience of Mr Jones and his actions on eBay – he is now selling a photo (yes, a photo, not a print or the miniature itself) of a miniature of a man thought to be Thomas Wyatt for £600 and prints of the Lady Bergavenny engraving for £1,000 – I believe his actions are not altogether wholesome. It’s a free market but it strikes me as unsavoury to buy prints (no print or engraving I own has cost me more that £50) and then photograph them (and partially, not the whole print) and sell them for £25-70 each under a different name for the sitter. It is misrepresentation at the very least, with regards to the Lady Bergavenny image. It is not a case of accidental misrepresentation either, Mr Jones has been listing photos of the Lady Bergavenny print as Anne Boleyn, that is what his listing title said and he now says in the listing for the prints he has: “I have just found some startling new evidence that this must be Anne Boleyn. Good luck to all those interested in this print and those searching for the original painting Bendor.” However, he has not shared the evidence in the listing which is very odd when he’s trying to sell it as Anne Boleyn. He knows full well that Dr Bendor Grosvenor, an art historian, Tudor portrait specialist and someone who researched the original portrait, has stated that there is no evidence at all to link this image to Anne Boleyn, and others have challenged this identification too, so his eBay listing is dishonest and is wilful misrepresentation, which I believe can be considered fraud. That’s not throwing offences at someone, I have corresponded with Mr Jones and he knows my view on the subject.

          “because one can think you are so biased in favour of these who agree with you, that you let them offend people who don’t share your opinion” – I don’t know what you mean by this. I’m not biased in favour of those who agree with me and anyone who has been using this site for a while will know that I am more than happy to be disagreed with. I’m happy for open dialogue over this image. Mr Jones is not being challenged because he disagrees with me, he is being challenged because of his actions on eBay and on here. Mr Jones has been given free rein here with his comments and I have not removed any or censored any, just asked that he not advertise. Denise’s comment was also published.
          If my platform loses credibility over this disagreement between Clare and Mr Jones then that seems to be a shame, but I would prefer to be seen to be questioning the actions of Mr Jones rather than supporting them and I like to keep the comments part of this site as open as possible. If people feel intimidated, attacked or bullied then I always act by contacting people via email or giving warnings, but in this case both sides seemed fine with what was going on.

          Just to clarify, I only automatically remove comments if they are spam. If they contain profanities then I edit them and contact the commenter to inform them of what I’ve done and why, and to ask them not to use such words. If people complain to me that they feel attacked or bullied then I contact the person concerned and try to resolve the situation. I don’t delete comments that don’t agree with me and I tend to let disagreements run their course unless parties are offended.

        2. Gina, Jones is making money out of a lie. He cannot say for definite that this is Anne Boleyn, and so by stating it as a fact is false representation. Maybe it is Anne Boleyn. That would be great, but at the moment Jones is committing a fraud, and as he refuses to amend his sales particulars, then I stand by my comment that he is a charlatan. Or do you condone criminal behaviour?

  40. Dear Claire,
    The photo of the painting of Thomas Wyatt says open to offers, so you are welcome to make an offer if you wish. There is a virtually identical picture in the NPG (after Holbein), so if my identification is incorrect the NPG will need to change their identification as well.
    I believe it is a superb painting though I do not know who the artist is.
    As the companion or lover of Anne Boleyn, as the poet who introduced the Sonnet into English literature and as the author of the fabulous poem about Anne ‘Whoso list to hunt I know…’ and then something about words engraved in diamonds about her neck, I think Sir Thomas is an important Tudor subject
    Please note that the photo for sale is exactly the same as the one pictured. So technically you might describe it as a detail from the painting.
    I hope to get another important Boleyn* picture on the site within a few days, but I thought an original new portrait of Thomas Wyatt might provide something to look at until I get the other picture sorted.

    *Called Boleyn but probably mistakenly so.

    1. Hi Howard,
      I just don’t understand why you are charging £600 for a photo of a miniature. Someone might pay that for the miniature but it’s not even a good photo as it’s missing the bottom part. I just don’t understand you or your practices. I can buy a photo of the NPG version of your Wyatt miniature for £15. If I want a framed version with a satin paper print in their mid-range frame then I can buy it for £70. A framed canvas is only £65. All this from the NPG site and it’s the whole portrait, not part of it, and it’s done professionally. I am absolutely disgusted by your opportunism.

        1. Thank you Claire for acting as an advisor.
          It is always very useful (and in some cases, more than ever)

  41. Dear Clare, My main concern with the photo was that it would stay on the site for at least a week, so I put a price tag on it which meant that it would not be sold to soon.
    I am surprised you have haven’t enquired about the provenance.
    While I am uncertain exactly how old it is it is very good portrait and we can clearly see such details as the colour of the eyes. Two drawings of the poet as a young man were made one by Holbein, and one by or after Holbein. I believe that in one of the drawings the eyes are bluish but I will check.
    I think it is a better painting than the NPG version, but you might prefer their version although some people might think it looks a little wooden.

    1. Are you replying to me or Clare? I think you must mean me. I’m not interested in it, Howard, and I’d be happier paying £15 for the NPG version even it wasn’t as good, but it’s beautiful anyway. £600 is ridiculous for a bad photo.

  42. I CAN’T stop laughing!!!!!!!!!!

    £600 for a PHOTOGRAPH?! I wouldn’t pay more than 60 pence!

    I don’t believe that this Mr. Jones is pricing the Thomas Wyatt print for a hefty £600 to DISCOURAGE bidding (seriously?!) and to encourage art historical discussion, as he claims. He just wants someone to buy if for the ridiculous £600 he’s asking. For that kind of money, I can go on a nice summer holiday instead

    Also, it is obvious that this person is using this site to promote his ebay auctions. He should be banned.

    1. Dear Jenny,
      It seems you are the one Jenny, who is obsessing about money. This is a new antique historical portrait of the poet Wyatt, Anne Boleyn’s boyfriend and yet no one has asked s single intelligent question about it. I am told that for such pictures provenance is important, but no one has asked where it came from, or whether we can be quite sure it is Sir Thomas.
      Almost all the Anne Boleyn Files contributors appear desperate not to discuss the issues surrounding these portraits. You can not see past the lapetts. If you look at the pictures more carefully you might see something I have overlooked.

  43. I STILL can’t stop laughing!!!!!!!! This time at Mr. Jones’ reply, which completely avoids how he ridiculously overcharges!

    And this is not a new portrait of Wyatt. Your photo appears to show a 18th or 19th century rendition of an older existing portrait type. There’s nothing particularly interesting or significant about that, hence no ‘intelligent’ questions to you about it.

    It is YOU who appears desperate not to discuss how you are exploiting this fine website for your own commercial purposes.

    And if you really think your Lady Bergavenny(?) picture is Anne Boleyn, why don’t you write a scholarly paper about it to support your point, and prove everyone wrong? Until then, the majority of opinion is that it’s not Anne Boleyn unfortunately.

    This time I CAN’T stop crying! (Tears of laughter!)

  44. I have a very late-to-the party comment regarding Anne Boleyn’s style. (I just found your very entertaining and informative blog. I have not read every single comment, so someone may have made this point already. In that case, my apologies.)

    At least in relatively modern usage, viscounts’ children are all, male and female, styled “The Honorable.” Whether it was true in Anne’s time I don’t know, but if it was, she would not have been styled “Lady Anne” when her father was Viscount Rochford only, before he was Earl of Wiltshire–just the Hon. Anne Boleyn. In any case, even if she was entitled use the style “Lady” when her father was only Viscount Rochford, her surname would still have been Boleyn–Rochford is a title and not a surname. She could have been known as Lady Pembroke for the short time between the granting of that title and her marriage–that title was suo jure, and not just a courtesy title. In fact, she outranked most everyone at court.

    I really don’t think there was any situation in her lifetime which would have enabled her to refer to herself or to be referred to as Lady Anne Rochford.

  45. And I should have added, no reason that she would have been called Lady Rochford–that would be either her mother or her sister-in-law, Jane (Parker) Rochford.

  46. People will say different things and I can see why they are but the first one does remind me of Anne or how I would feel Anne to look. The other ones not so much. I doubt that it is the other women they mention in question because it would just not fit. Someone has made an error somewhere for all these years. I hope the original shoes itself soon.

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