Rare Anne Boleyn Portrait May Just Have Emerged

Henry VIII tried to wipe her from history
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 16, 2015 2:50 PM CST
Updated Feb 21, 2015 6:28 AM CST
In this Sept. 22, 2011 photo, Anna Netrebko, left, portrays Anne Boleyn, with Ekaterina Gubanova as Jane Seymour in Gaetano Donizetti's "Anna Bolena," at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

(Newser) – There's only one existing portrait of Anne Boleyn whose authenticity experts don't dispute—but a facial recognition program may have changed that. The software, developed at UC Riverside, suggests that a painting known as the Nidd Hall portrait may also show Henry VIII's beheaded second wife. Experts have debated whether the portrait, housed in northern England, features Boleyn or Jane Seymour, Henry's third wife. The software aimed to help settle the issue, the Guardian reports. The technology compares known images of a person with uncertain ones, looking at characteristics like nose width and eyebrow curvature.

In this case, researchers compared the painting to a leaden portrait called the Moost Happi medal. The medal is the only known portrait of the queen, most of whose images were destroyed after she was beheaded; the king wanted to remove her from history, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. But when her daughter, Elizabeth I, became queen, portraits of Boleyn re-emerged, though they were quite possibly based on other noblewomen, the Telegraph reports. Indeed, along with the possible match, the researchers also found that well-known images supposedly of Boleyn, including two at London’s National Portrait Gallery, may not show her at all, the Telegraph notes. (For decidedly fictional portraits, try Hillary Mantel's books or, in a pinch, The Other Boleyn Girl.)

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