Posted By Claire on February 16, 2015It has always been frustrating to me that the only contemporary likeness we have on Anne Boleyn is the Moost Happi medal which was struck in 1534 and which is now housed at the British Museum. There is controversy over all the other images said to be of Anne because they are all so different – the National Portrait Gallery painting, the Hever Castle one, the Holbein sketches, the Hoskins miniature and so on, but now it looks like one that is often dismissed could actually be Anne.
The Nidd Hall portrait, dating to the late 16th century, which many believe to look more like Jane Seymour, has been compared to the 1534 medal by Amit Roy-Chowdhury, head of the video computing group at the University of California in Riverside, using a facial recognition programme devised by Roy-Chowdhury. According to an article in “The Guardian” newspaper, reporting on Roy-Chowdhury’s presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in San Jose, “The system compared the Moost Happi medal image with four paintings from Tudor times, and failed to find a match with some portraits, including one from Hever Castle in Kent and another held at the National Portrait Gallery in London”, but it found that the medal was a close match to the Nidd Hall portrait. Interestingly, “The system struggled to shed light on the validity of three paintings that may be of Shakespeare after comparing them with a sculpted bust, an engraving and a portrait at the National Portrait Gallery.”
We cannot be sure, though. Professor Roy-Chowdhury did say:
“What the computer provides at the end is another source of evidence into the discussions that have been going on about these questions. It should not be construed that the computer knows the answer.”
So, it sounds like more work has to be done, but it shows that we should not dismiss this portrait.
Talking about the 1534 medal, stonecarver Lucy Churchill did an amazing job at replicating this medal and ‘filling in’ the parts that had been damaged. You can read about her research and how she went about replicating it at The Reconstruction of the Moost Happi Medal.
On this day in history…
- 1547 – Henry VIII was interred in a vault in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Click here to read more about Henry’s funeral.
Notes and Sources
- Possible Anne Boleyn portrait found using facial recognition software, The Guardian.
- Portraits of Anne Boleyn may not be her, say experts, The Telegraph