Some of you may remember how opposed I was to the “new portrait of Anne Boleyn” that surfaced a few months back. A new miniature portrait was brought to my attention via Facebook today, and I wanted to tell you why I think this one actually could be a portrait of Anne Boleyn, or at least a copy of a portrait of her.
The owner of the portrait wrote in her post:
Last year my husband purchased various snuff boxes etc at a local auction. In amongst them was a small portrait. I took the portrait out of its leather and velvet lined box and written on the back was written A Bo.... ( or A Bu....) and on the next line AD 1530. There is also a date at the bottom which appears to be 1796. I have been advised that it is probably not by a professional artist and that it is based on a print held by the British Museum from the early 1800's but it is dated earlier than that. It probably is based on another portrait. What there is no doubt of it is very similar to other supposed pictures of Anne Boleyn. Also, that in 1796, over 200 years ago, the artist probably believed this was Anne Boleyn?The date “1530″ on the rear was probably the artist’s guess as to the year the original image was created, but is probably just that - a guess. If the image does portray Anne in 1530, it would be two years before she married Henry VIII.
Unlike the portrait of Lady Bergavenny, the sitter in this portrait is wearing the appropriate clothing and jewelry for a woman of Anne Boleyn’s time-period and station. I would suggest that the date is closer to 1535 than 1530, though, simply because of the shortness of the lappets.
The headdress closely resembles the one worn in Anne’s Nidd Hall and portrait medallion images.
The lappets on the hood reach to about mouth-level which would be correct for the mid 1530s.
The date on the back of the portrait is difficult to distinguish (at the bottom of the frame) but 1796 seems correct, stylistically speaking.
As to what portrait the miniature may be based from, I suggest possibly this one by Jacobus Houbraken, 1738.
But what makes it intriguing to me is that the Houbraken etching was supposedly done after a Holbein portrait. I’d like to fantasize that the artist was actually looking at the Holbein painting itself when they made this miniature copy, and not this etching! Could we possibly be getting glimpses of the lost full-length Holbein of the queen which was lost in the late 18th century?
One last thing... Note the hair of the sitter. It’s the same shade as that seen in Elizabeth’s portrait ring of her mother.
Yes, I’m still an advocate of the Anne Boleyn Was a Redhead school! And it’s interesting the artist would choose to give her hair this shade if they were simply inventing colors for the black-and-white etching above. More fuel for my fantasy that the artist actually saw the lost Holbein!