Anne Boleyn's medal restored?
May 15 2012
Picture: Lucy Churchill / British Museum
This is interesting - a reworking of Anne Boleyn's 1534 portrait medal. There are few more debated iconographies in English history than Anne's, and it's long been thought that the one truly certain likeness of her* is the medal held by the British Museum. (The famous portrait type of her in black is a posthumous interpration, and not very reliable). The trouble is, the lead medal has been worn and flattened over time, so that it cannot be used a guide to Anne's true likeness.
Now, however, the stonecarver Lucy Churchill has made a commendable effort to recreate the medal as it might have been. I think her effort looks most impressive. Curiosuly enough, the nose looks rather like that seen in the 'Anna Bollein Queene' Holbein drawing, which I and others (such as Dr David Starkey) have said for time really is Anne, and which the Royal Collection now accepts as her. That said, I still think we must be very careful when using the medal as any guide to Anne's portraiture.
* Before people write in mentioning the 'Anne Boleyn ring', I'm afraid I don't entirely believe it. The image is, in my view, more likely to be a representation of the young Elizabeth.