Anne Boleyn - The NPG Portrait

Thanks so much to Anne Boleyn Files visitor, Gillian, for passing this information on to me. Gillian wrote to the National Portrait Gallery concerning the famous portrait of Anne Boleyn which is usually on display there but which was missing on her recent visit.

The National Portrait gallery replied to Gillian’s query, stating that the painting had been undergoing a 9 week period of analysis as part of the “Making Art in Tudor Britain” project and that it had been found that the portrait is in need of urgent conservation work.

The bad news is that the painting will not be on display for visitors to the NPG at the moment BUT there is some interesting news. The analysis undertaken by the experts has confirmed that the painting is late 16th century and so was painted not long after Anne’s lifetime, suggesting that it could be a good likeness in that it was painted within living memory.

Catherine of Aragon – The NPG Portrait

Catherine of Aragon, 18th Century Portrait

Further interesting news is that the famous NPG Catherine of Aragon portrait is NOT a contemporary painting but, in fact, only dates back to the early 17th century.

The NPG experts found that the blue paint used for the background and in the jewels in Catherine’s hood contained Prussian Blue, a pigment which was not invented until 1704-1710. This finding was also backed up by tree ring analysis on the wood used for the panel, which dated the panel to the early 18th century at the earliest.

The National Portrait Gallery is a great place to visit if you’re in London as it is home to over 160,000 portraits. Highlights for Tudor history fans include:-

  • Elizabeth of York, Unknown artist
  • King Henry VIII c1520
  • Mary I by Master John
  • Catherine Parr by Master John
  • Edward VI, anamorphosis, William Scrots
  • Thomas Cromwell, after Hans Holbein the Younger
  • Thomas Cranmer by Gerlach Flicke
  • Edward VI, after William Scrots
  • Sir Thomas More, his father, his household and his descendants
  • Queen Elizabeth I, Coronation Portrait
  • Queen Elizabeth I, c1575
  • Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester
  • Queen Elizabeth I, The Ditchley Portrait
  • Mary Queen of Scots, after Nicholas Hilliard
  • Anne Boleyn, Unknown artist

and various engravings thought to be of Anne Boleyn.

Find out more about visiting the National Portrait Gallery at

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