Anne Boleyn is one of the most controversial characters in history.
Her three year marriage to Henry VIII changed the face of England as it was known at the time. They changed laws, traditions, and even the national religion when Henry divorced the queen, Catherine, to marry his lover, Anne Boleyn.
Anne Boleyn was accused of many a salacious act while she was married to the king and was put to death by beheading.
Because of the king’s possible upset at her image, most of the portraits of Anne Boleyn were destroyed after her death.
Now, two of the most famous portraits of Anne Boleyn, which are housed in the National Portrait Gallery, may not even be her.
Scientists, working with facial recognition experts armed with a new facial recognition algorithm, have determined that her face in the portraits doesn’t match the only undisputed likeness of the former queen.
The portraits in question are the ‘Anna Bolina’ portrait, which is a late 16th century copy of a painting from 1533, and the Hever Castle portrait, a late 16th century painting which is a copy of a portrait from Tudor England.
One of the ladies in the portraits is even wearing Anne Boleyn’s signature “B” pendant.
After running the software, scientists simply cannot say that the woman in the portraits is definitely Anne Boleyn.
Professor Amit Roy-Chowdhury, of the University of California and creator of the algorithm, said, “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.”
What do you think about the discovery that the Anne Boleyn portraits, that have been prized by England for centuries, may not even be her?