Anne Boleyn needs YOU!

March 22 2011

Image of Anne Boleyn needs YOU!

Picture: The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery needs help to begin urgent conservation work on their portrait of Anne Boleyn. The wooden panel is buckling and cracking, causing damage to the paint layers. This is happening because the picture was long ago 'cradled', a conservation practice that was all the rage in the early twentieth century, and which is preventing the panel from moving naturally.

You can donate online here - they have so far raised £2,500, and need to hit £4,000 before work can begin. Please pass this round if you know anyone else who might bung in a few quid.

The picture is probably the most important extant painting of Anne, and consciously presents her as the dark witch-like figure she was portrayed as after her execution.

But it probably doesn't look anything like her. In 2007 David Starkey and I argued that she actually looked like this - and that the old inscription on Holbein's drawing labelled 'Anna Bollein Queen' was valid. Previously, the drawing had been called simply 'Portrait of a Lady'. I'm pleased to note that the Royal Collection now definitively catalogues it as 'Anne Boleyn' in full, and says 'This is a rare surviving portrait of Anne'. Hooray! [Bragging note: to see another royal portrait in a public collection I have re-identified, click here.]

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