The Tudor Society

Re-Identification of a Royal Tudor Portrait – Expert Talk

Our experts for January are Laura Loney and Ashley Risk who have done extensive research to determine who might be in the famous oval portrait once thought to be Katherine Howard... but is it really of her? This in-depth video explains who they truly think the sitter is.

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  1. M

    Very fascinating! Thank you for taking the time to explain your research. I see it in the eyes, but until you showed the graphic experiments, I didn’t see a real likeness, except the eyes. Now I do. And thanks for explaining the symbolism, too. Truly very interesting, and I hope too that a likeness of Catherine Howard can be found. Michelle t

    1. L

      Thank you for your kind words, Michelle! Looking forward to the chatroom discussion on Friday.

  2. T

    I can see it now! I am amazed. I hope we can find a portrait of Katherine Howard. Thats a shame.

    1. L

      Thank you, Theresa! I’m forever hoping that there is an attic full of Tudor portraits that someone will stumble across one day! Fingers crossed!

  3. L

    I enjoyed this presentation very much. Your research and conclusions made are worthy of consideration. I for one DO believe that the portrait IS of Anne of Cleves. I admit that I’m a huge fan of Anne of Cleves but that is not why I think it is of her. I’ve never thought that this portrait looked anything like a teenage Catherine Howard. So, I have always thought that it was more likely of Anne of Cleves – and definitely not any of King Henry VIII’s other wives. I found the symbolism most interesting too. Also references to Anne’s Book of Hours. Beautiful and fascinating.
    “Thank you” both so much for this presentation. Great work!

    1. L

      I am so pleased you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and kind words. It made my day!

  4. R

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful research and so many lovely portraits of Anne and her family, her Book of Hours which you don’t see very often and the portraits of Kathryn Howard.

    Your research, especially into the symbols and the graphic research is fascinating and makes a good case. For me the Hapsburg chin stands out and Cleves was a relation to the HRE royalty. I can see where there are similar things in the miniature portraits but I don’t see that Anna of Kleve would use the English dragon in her dress. The age of the ex KH portrait is problematic as everyone said Anna was fair and beautiful except Henry and his cronies who lied to get his annulment.

    The KH portrait is of a much older woman. She is at least 29 or 30. Anne was 24. She was born in July 1515, not September as previously believed and there is a lot more German about her than her dress. Anna adopted English and French ways but her panels show she continued to see herself as German. There are a number of interesting symbols in the dress and lives and hairstyle of the wearer but I am not yet convinced this is Anne of Kleves.

    I think you have the basis of ground breaking results which can be built upon by art experts and I am sure many will be examining this for many more years before its confirmed one way or another. Your work is astounding and very thought provoking. One day, hopefully we will identify the sitter and one of Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard.

    The workshop of Hans Holbein 1540 to 1545 Portrait of a Young Woman has some historians convinced that this is Kathryn Howard. She certainly looks like a young woman of 17 with pouting lips about to be foisted into the bed of the ageing Henry Viii, somewhat reluctantly. I think they might be right.

    Thanks again and thanks for answering our questions in the chat tonight.

    LynMarie RTL

  5. h

    Thank you for the compelling and painstaking research. we are lucky there are other paintings to compare the miniature with. As with Anne Boleyn I think it will be difficult to trace a picture of Catherine Howard but hope we will!

  6. B

    After 50+ years as a photographer, 20+ years spent editing, restoring, and identifying old photographs, and several years spent as a lead in selecting the US FBI’s facial recognition software, I have some degree of expertise in comparing and understanding facial features as well as in how that is done. My wife is also a professional portrait painter, and I’ve learned from her as well.

    The fact that the miniature is Anne of Cleves seemed obvious to me a first blush. Those are her eyes, and that is her facial architecture. It isn’t hard to “see” the miniature rotated is the same as the full-on portrait of Anne. This all ignores the fact that the supposed Katherine Howard painting is hardly the face of someone who died in her teens. The research is impressive and compelling.

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Re-Identification of a Royal Tudor Portrait – Expert Talk