Monday 22 April 2013

Restoration of the NPG's Anne Boleyn Portrait

An interesting photo, from the 1970’s, of the Anne Boleyn portrait in The National Portrait Gallery.

Prior to restoration, the panel was severely split down the center, and there was some damage to the paint surface.

The NPG did an excellent job in cleaning and repairing the portrait; particularly in covering up the crack, which is virtually unnoticeable today.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Elizabeth I in Washington D.C.

A ‘pre-Gloriana’ portrait of Elizabeth I at The National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. that I got to see last week.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

A Recreation of Anne Boleyn's Portrait Medal

Despite her being Henry VIII's most famous wife, there is still some mystery as to what Anne Boleyn actually looked like. The various representations of Anne are still debated by art historians, with one championing this, and the other that.

What they can agree on is that the only surviving likeness we have from Anne Boleyn’s lifetime is a lead portrait medal made in 1534. Unfortunately, it has suffered damage to the face, but the overall impression is of a woman with a regal bearing, having a long face and high cheekbones (arguably corresponding to the famous image of Anne wearing a ‘B’ pendant necklace).

Anne Boleyn's Portrait Medal (The British Museum)

The damage to the medal was no obstacle to English stone carver Lucy Churchill making a recreation of it. I encourage everyone to visit her web site, and to read her blog about how she did it. And do get one for yourself. It’s a remarkable piece of craftsmanship. Bravo Lucy!
Anne Boleyn's Portrait Medal (made by Lucy Churchill)

The 'Re-Discovered' Katherine of Aragon

Earlier this year, a portrait of an unknown lady at Lambeth Palace made the news when it was identified as Henry VIII’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon:

Katherine of Aragon (by an Unknown Artist), NPG L246

For some unclear reason it was previously thought to be of Katharine Parr, Henry’s last queen. Certainly, her costume – of the earlier part of the 1500’s – was a red flag. Nonetheless, the portrait was reproduced in history books from the 1970’s and 1980’s as Katharine, and even as late as 1999, when historian Susan James (Kateryn Parr: The Making of a Queen) saw the picture as proof of Katharine’s early interest in portraiture; years before becoming a patroness of the arts as Henry VIII's sixth wife.

As a likeness of Katherine of Aragon, it is rather poor. The face is bland and mask-like, inferior to better known representations of the Queen. That said, it might well be a copy. The portrait was replicated as shown in this alternate version (also formerly identified as Henry VIII's first wife).

Katherine of Aragon (by an Unknown Artist), Hever Castle.

UPDATE (July 6, 2017)

This portrait, of the same type, was sold at Christie's in 2016.

Katherine of Aragon (by an Unknown Artist)

Calling Nancy Drew! The Mystery of the Stolen Portraits

Considering the high prices such pictures are fetching these days, it's surprising that after 30 plus years, these 3 portraits still haven't turned up yet trying to be sold.

Whoever took 'em - 'fess up!