Anne Boleyn ‘The Moost Happi’ Portrait Medal

A portrait medal of Anne Boleyn, inscribed A.R. THE MOOST HAPPI ANNO 1534

Anne Boleyn’s portrait medal was made as a prototype in 1534, to commemorate the anticipated birth of a son. Sadly, Anne lost the baby 7-8 months into the pregnancy, explaining why multiple copies of the medal were not commissioned.

Luckily, the prototype survived and is today housed in the British Museum. The medal is made of lead, is 38 mm in diameter and inscribed with Queen Anne’s motto, ‘The Moost Happi. Anno 1534’ and ‘A.R’ for Anna Regina.

This is the only undisputed contemporary likeness of Anne Boleyn and unfortunately, it is badly damaged. The nose and parts of the forehead and left eye have eroded, leading one historian, G.W Bernard, to conclude that the medal is, ‘not that helpful as an indication of her appearance’ (pg. 196).

Lucy Churchill’s reconstruction of Anne Boleyn’s Portrait Medal

I have always wondered about what the medal looked like originally and so was thrilled when I discovered that Lucy Churchill had created a replica of the medal as it would have looked originally and had made copies available for purchase through her website.

Of course, I had to add this to my collection and so I promptly visited Lucy’s site and purchased one. It arrived a couple of days ago and it is brilliant!

Actually, brilliant doesn’t do it sufficient justice, the detail on Anne’s headdress, jewellery and gown are exquisite and a testament to the extensive research and time that has been devoted to this reconstruction.

Although the original medal is only very small, Lucy’s replica is 145mm in diameter x 7mm making it perfect to mount on a wall. It is also great to compare the medal to various portraits identified as Anne Boleyn.

Anne Boleyn, attributed to John Hoskins

One of the portraits that I think bears a strong resemblance to the sitter in the medal (although the features have been softened), is  a 17th century miniature in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. Ives states that Charles I had this copied as ‘Anne Boleyn’ by John Hoskins the elder (c.1590-1664/5), and it is endorsed ‘from an ancient original’ (Pg. 43). He even speculates that Hoskins may have had access to a Holbein painting or a painting derived from Holbein, now lost.

After examining the original under close magnification, Lucy concluded that ‘Anne Boleyn clearly had a long face with high cheek bones, and a prominent chin’, as Eric Ives puts it,  ‘a face of character, not beauty’ (Pg. 43).

Replica of Anne Boleyn’s Portrait Medal by Lucy Churchill

For a more detailed discussion of Anne Boleyn’s portraits and appearance, please read, ‘Would the Real Anne Boleyn Please Come Forward?

To find out more about Lucy Churchill’s research and the process of reconstructing the medal, visit Lucy’s blog here.

To add this to your collection and/or read about Lucy’s other historical reconstructions, including a restoration copy of a heraldic crest from the 15th century tomb of Sir Richard de Vere at St Stephen’s Chapel, Bures, Essex, click here.

References
Bernard, G. W. Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions, 2010.
Ives, E. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 2004.
http://www.lucychurchill.com/

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Comments

  1. A wonderful artifact, but not a very flattering portrait of poor Anne. I am suprized though at her wearing a gabled hood, not the style of head wear you associate with her.

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