100 Days of Art History Jinjins


Portrait of Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn is another iconic lady. It seems that portraits of her were destroyed once she fell from favor in the English court and not many survive. This one's provenance seems to be lost to history, and it's unclear whether or not it's a true likeness, it does seem to represent her in the popular imagination. The National Portrait Gallery says that this painting is probably based on a contemporary portrait (meaning one that was painted while the sitter was alive) which no longer survives.

Personally, I love her necklace the most. There's a "B" (for Boleyn), and it's fun to see this relatable instinct to have personalized jewelry appear on this otherwise totally remote visage.

In case you don't know, Anne Boleyn was very powerful. She was the one that started the whole Henry VIII's 6 wives thing--he was so obsessed with her that he separated from the Catholic Church and divorced his first wife so that he could be with her. But when she couldn't give him a son, he'd gotten a taste for switching wives I guess, and found a reason to have her executed and move on to the next one. Joke's on him, Anne Boleyn's daughter was Elizabeth I who became the Queen of England.

Reference image is from Wikipedia. This painting is currently in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

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