Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Question from Cheryl - Elizabeth's locket ring

re. the so-called Chequers ruby ring, when unhinged shows two portraits; one obviously Elizabeth and the other a younger woman. There is a supposition that this is Anne Boleyn and I have always assumed it was, but recently I had a thought that, though narcissistic, could it possibly be a younger Elizabeth? Is there definitive proof this is Anne? I would love to think so as if it is and because Elizabeth owned this ring, it is confirmation that the likeness was one accepted by Elizabeth as her mother's. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

I am looking at a marvelous copy of the ring close up; one of the clearest I have seen from one of the articles on your website blog re. the exhibition of The Goldsmith's Company.


Lara said...

For the longest time I had also seen the other portrait referred to as Anne Boleyn, but recently I saw it mentioned that some art historians do suspect that it is actually a young Elizabeth. So I guess the answer at this point is that the identification isn't definite one way or the other.

(Although my sentimental side really wants it to be Anne!)

Cheryl LeBarts said...

From Cheryl -

Lara, I have not heard that some historians assume it might be a young Elizabeth. Does anyone know where the assumption it could be Anne originate? I assume folklore and yes, romanticism incline us to want to believe it is Anne. The younger portrait certainly has all of the appearance characteristics of a young Elizabeth rather than in Thomas Wyatt's poetics and unauthenticated portraits of Anne, her "brunette" characteristics. Thanks for the comment! Would appreciate anyone else weighing in on this.

Lara said...

The first time I came across someone mentioning it might be a young Elizabeth was here: http://www.arthistorynews.com/articles/1337_Anne_Boleyn's_medal_restored?
(bottom of the article)

I thought I saw it mentioned elsewhere, but now I'm thinking it was about something else. That's the trouble with trying to follow too many history sites!

Cheryl LeBarts said...


Thank you for that link. To divert slightly, I have some difficulty accepting the damaged medal as that of Anne Boleyn. The facial features; gable hood seem to more closely resemble Jane Seymour. However in 1534, that could not be. How accurate are these likenesses and were sculptors;castings held to certain law requirements in depicting likenesses on medals;coins? Were they not approved by the monarch prior to casting? They do not appear to be historically very anatomically correct in viewing other similar likenesses that have been discovered.

Lara said...

Unfortunately I don't know a whole lot about the medals (although I've often wondered about the creation of that one in particular), but hopefully someone else can comment!

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the medal, but I am curious about the idea that the ring held two pictures of Elizabeth, one significantly younger than the other. Is that the sort of thing she would have made for her? I have read that she insisted her portraits show her as youthful even when she wasn't ... is this true? (IMO, if she insisted on displaying a (no-longer-existent) youthfulness, I doubt she would treasure something that showed a comparison between youth and age. However, like Lara, the sentimentalist in me wants it to be Anne)


tudor princess said...

It was Eric Ives who established the "missing link" of the portrait ring and Anne's portraits, in his biography of her.

I personally believe it is Anne for the following reasons:

The French hood is that of the 1530s and not of the 1540s and the portrait does not seem to follow the face patterns of Elizabeth when she was young. It does, however, follow Anne's face pattern quite closely.

There are several examples of Elizabeth as a girl in paintings such as the Scrots portrait and also the dynastic family portrait of 1545 so I am not too sure why Elizabeth would have needed a reminder of herself as a young girl.

As Anonymous points out, Elizabeth's portraits are all about the "mask of youth" (with a few exceptions eg the Ditchley portrait) and Elizabeth was very sensitive about ageing.

Portrait miniatures were the Tudor equivalent of our photographs in wallets. They were often carried on one's person or kept out of sight ie they were extremely intimate objects, to be viewed away from prying eyes.

So in this case, a portrait miniature of Anne, to be viewed privately would fit this scenario perfectly.

As for the medal, Cheryl, it is definitely Anne (it has her motto on it) but I think it was cast by an English medal maker whose skills were somewhat behind the continentals in this area!

Roland H. said...

Anne Boleyn is the best candidate as the 'mystery lady' in the ring.

Regarding comments I've read elsewhere that the lady's hair (which looks yellowish) discounts her as being Anne (who was a brunette) - one has to remember that the image was sculpted in gold, and then colored with enamels. I think some of the the enamel must have rubbed off over time, thus revealing Anne's 'golden' hair beneath.

Historian Susan James (who has written extensively on Katharine Parr) believes the lady to be - no surprise - Katharine.

But while Elizabeth, as a girl, was close to her stepmother, there is no evidence that she continued to cherish Katharine's memory in later life. Thus, there was no reason for such a ring to be made.

I got to see the ring at the Henry VIII exhibition at Greenwich years ago. The portraits were tiny!

Cheryl LeBarts said...

All very interesting comments! Thank you all for your insight and opinions; in light of which I am inclined to believe the portrait miniature is Anne Boleyn, particularly in light of Roland's comment about the casting in gold that would have been overlaid with enamel. I did not think of that. I agree that it is unlikely to be Catherine Parr, but I do still lean toward the option of a younger Elizabeth. It is possible it pleased Elizabeth to have a constant reminder of her youth and beauty. On the other hand, knowing what we do know of her horror of aging and her famous vanity, that might be fanciful.

Marilyn R said...

The 2003 Greenwich catalogue says it was probably a gift in the mid-1570's from Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, and is a probable authentic likeness of Anne Boleyn.

It seems rather odd thet a courtier would commission an article showing an image of the mother of whom Elizabeth never spoke (or did she in private?), or images of both a young and older Elizabeth, knowing how touchy she was about ageing - she would be in her early 40's according to the catalogue dating.

Was she on such intimate terms with Seymour that he would have had the confidence to commission such a ring? Won't this be the same Hertford who was sent to the Tower for marrying Lady Catherine Grey just a few years before this ring ws made, and then fined a sum equivalent to millions of pounds todat for having seduced a virgin of the blood royal?

When Catherine died he was released and allowed back to court, but their sons were to be regarded as illigitimate. I suppose a ring with a portrait of Anne could be seen as a reminder to Elizabeth that her own origins were somewhat unconventional, but surely he would not dare risk offending her again.

I'm going to see the exhibition on Wednesday of next week, so will try to find out a bit more.

Roland H. said...

I don’t think the ring was commission by Edward Seymour for the Queen. The argument for believing so was that the Seymours used a phoenix as their badge.

The phoenix (as seen on the back of the ring) was a symbol used independently by Elizabeth herself (as in one of her famous portraits).

tudor princess said...

I have been racking my brains to think of an example when a monarch has been portrayed in youth, alongside a latter-day portrait and cannot think of any.

I can, however, think of several paintings which depict generations eg the Whitehall mural and the 1545 painting which shows Edward, Mary and Elizabeth alongside Henry and Jane Seymour. To show your descent was very important in Tudor times, even if Anne were regarded as someone outside the pale, so to speak.

I last saw the ring at the Elizabeth exhibition some time ago but will try and catch the exhibition at the Goldsmiths' Company as well as the one at Greenwich Maritime Musuem.

Marilyn, if you are up in London then it may be worth popping into the Wallace Collection where they have a small, free exhibition on The Noble Art of the Sword: Fashion and Fencing in Renaissance Europe. I thought it was extremely interesting and they have an amazing suit of blue silk, slashed over with silver which belonged to the Elector of Saxony.

And of course, the Wallace Collection was founded by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford - those Seymours just get everywhere!

Marilyn R said...

Tudor Princess - thanks for the tip, I shall go on Thursday and then to the NPG to have a look at the portraits (Robert Dudley the explorer, etc) you mentioned on another posting. Thanks again.


M said...

The best laid plans can go wrong. I was delayed and made it to St Paul's only five minutes before the last entry at Goldsmiths' Hall, which lies a few streets behind it. The evening rush hour was just starting in the City and I knew I wouldn't make it in time. Hope you have better luck, Tudor Princess.

Going a little off topic here, but
it was interesting to compare the beautiful portrait of Dudley Senior at close quarters at the Wallace Collection with the (possible) one of his son at the NPG. - enjoyed both of those, and can appreciate what Elizabeth saw in the dashing Robert.

The NPG Anne Boleyn is now back on display after restoration.

At the British Library there is a small display of documents associated with coronations and celebrations, including the account of Anne's procession from the Tower and the sketch of the seating arrangements for her coronation feast, where she is sitting at the top table.

(I know I always say this, but to anybody going to Buckingham Palace to see the Diamonds Exhibition, get there as early as you can, preferably for opening at 09.45.)

tudor princess said...

Thanks for the update, Marilyn. I know that time simply runs out in London, if you want to pack in a lot.

I will definitely go to the Goldsmiths Hall and post an update.

I went to Buckingham Palace last year to see the wedding dress and they had a display of Faberge which was a nightmare to see as the cases were small and the crowds large.

Glad to see you enjoyed the Wallace Collection and the NPG; all those wrongly attributed paintings must have been a headache for the NPG! I particularly enjoyed "Mary, Queen of Scots" who has blonde hair and blue eyes. Even the black and white tabs on her gown were apparently added some years after.

The Shakespeare exhibition opens shortly at the British Museum (the Treasures of Heaven last year, was superlative) so that's another one to add to my list.

Looking forward to reading your research on the Howard family - I hope you will post it!

Roland H. said...

Here are some other thoughts as to why the ‘unknown lady’ in Elizabeth’s portrait ring should not be a younger version of the Queen herself, as has been suggested.

The ring dates from about 1575. Elizabeth was only 42 at the time, and still a handsome woman. There would be no reason to contrast herself with a likeness of her youth, especially when the present profile image of Elizabeth is a complimentary one, depicting her in majesty and glory.

Furthermore, Elizabeth could not have been nostalgic about her past. In her earlier years, she was considered a bastard, was scandalized by her alleged affair with Thomas Seymour, and was in constant danger in the reign of her sister Queen Mary.

That said, the other image is almost certainly of her mother, Anne Boleyn, who is the most plausible candidate.

Lara said...

Roland, who previously commented in this thread, has written up a nice round-up of this discussion on his website here: http://tudorfaces.blogspot.ca/2013/03/the-chequers-locket-ring-mother-and.html