Anne Boleyn is one of the most famous faces and stories in all of history, but that famous face in now under speculation.
Anne Boleyn had many portraits painted of her while she was Henry VIII’s second wife.
These portraits are treasured items, since many of them were destroyed after Anne Boleyn’s infamous beheading for fear that her image would upset the king.
However, scientists have determined that these treasured portraits may not actually be Anne Boleyn.
Using facial recognition experts and a new algorithm that maps faces from portraits for comparison to other portraits, scientists say that the face of Anne Boleyn in some of the portraits doesn’t match the miniature of Boleyn from the British Museum that they are using as a reference.
The miniature is the only undisputed likeness of Anne Boleyn.
The portraits in question include the “Anna Bolina” portrait, a late 16th century copy of a painting from 1533, which hangs in London’s National Portrait Gallery. Also among those in question is the famous Hever Castle portrait, a late 16th century painting which is a copy of a portrait from Tudor England, and a second picture of Anne Boleyn from the National Portrait Gallery.
The latter is even wearing her signature “B” pendant seen in many of Anne Boleyn’s portraits.
Professor Amit Roy-Chowdhury, of the University of California, is the creator of the algorithm. He said of the project, “The goal of this project is to be able to use state of the art face recognition to identify the individuals seen in a particular portrait.”
He added, “These portraits have some importance. They probably represent someone of social standing, or some important event, and we often want to identify who is the person in the portrait. The goal is to be able to identify individuals whose identities may not be absolutely certain.”
The new algorithm has not only possibly solved mysteries surrounding portraits of Anne Boleyn, but has also opened a proverbial can of worms in regard to some Shakespeare portraits.
The famous Cobbe portrait, which dates from around 1610, is probably not the playwright and is possibly poet Thomas Overbury. The Hampton Court Palace portrait has also been forced under speculation thanks to the new algorithm.
This is pretty interesting stuff! This might raise a lot more questions than it answers.
What do you think of the potential of this new facial recognition algorithm?