In the past I’ve written about contemporary images of Anne Boleyn: the lack of surviving contemporary portraits and the Moost Happi medal, and Anne’s association with the gable and French hoods.

Today, I’m looking at the famous B pattern portraits of Anne. I’ve compiled the versions which were likely painted in roughly the 100-years after Anne’s death.

The B pattern takes its name from the B necklace Anne is depicted wearing in these portraits. All the portraits follow the same pattern: B pendant with pearls; dark French hood lined with more pearls over dark hair; and a dark dress with a blackwork chemise border.

The portraits seem to naturally fall into several groupings based on facial features. The first grouping consists of NPG 668, NGI.549, and NPG 4980(15) portraits.

NPG 668, oil on panel, late 16th century
NGI.549, oil on panel, late 16th century
NPG 4980(15),
oil on panel, 1597-1618

The second grouping consists of the Hever Rose, Radclyffe, and Shindler portraits.

Hever Rose portrait, oil on panel, 16th century
Radclyffe portrait, believed to be 16th century
Shindler portrait, believed to be 16th century

The third grouping consists of the Cornelli, Hoskins, and Mould miniatures.

Miniature attributed to Lucas Cornelli, c.1600
Miniature by John Hoskins, early 17th century
Mould miniature by an Anglo-Flemish artist, c.1600

The Van Cleve print, RCIN 404742, and Lyndhurst portraits almost seem to bridge the gap between the facial features of the three groups – does that make them seem more accurate, with the other face types deriving from them in different ways; or less accurate, as amalgams of the other facial types?

Van Cleve print? early 18th century print of what is believed to be a lost contemporary original by Joos Van Cleve
RCIN 404742 by a British artist, 16th century
Lyndhurst portrait, associated with Johannes Corvus who died in 1545

So little is know about these portraits, we aren’t even sure how the portraits in each category relate to one another. We only have approximate dates for them, and for most we cannot say who painted them, though a couple of them have been tenuously attributed to an artist.

~ NPG 668 ~

Though none of these portraits are not contemporary, at least one of them may be a copy of a lost contemporary original (with the rest being copies of that copy or each other). I discussed in Part 3 of my series on Anne Boleyn’s hood that the famous NPG portrait is unlikely to represent a true likeness of Anne, as it seems to follow a facial pattern the anonymous artist used for many portraits, including those of Elizabeth and Mary I.

~ The Hoskins Miniature ~

Although it was painted in the 17th century, later than some of the other B pattern portraits, there is evidence which suggests the miniature by John Hoskins was copied from ‘an ancient original,’ perhaps the lost full-length portrait that was at one stage in the possession of Lord Lumley.

~ Privately Held Portraits ~

Some of these portraits, such as the Radclyffe and Shindler portraits, are held in private collections, and have not been viewed by the public for many years. Sadly, little research has been done on them due to the reluctance of the owners.

~ The Chequers Ring ~

Although a diamond is in the place we would want to see the B necklace, I have included the likeness of Anne from the Chequers Ring, owned by Elizabeth I, as the dark French hood, dark dress, and style of necklace, does seem to follow the other features of the pattern.

~ The Van Cleve Print ~

I have included a print of a portrait that we don’t currently know the location of. Due to this, little research has been done on the portrait, but a recent reconsideration has suggested that the original may have been a contemporary portrait painted by Joos Van Cleve, who also painted at least one portrait of Henry VIII in the early-to-mid 1530s. Until the original can be tracked down and analysed, we cannot say for sure, but this may be the origin of the B pattern portraits.

~ The Hever Rose Portrait ~

The fabulous Dr. Owen Emmerson is currently working on new research regarding the Hever Rose portrait, which will hopefully shed more light on this portrait, and the B pattern portraits in general.






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