Despite being one of the most famous women in British history, very little has been known about what Anne Boleyn looks like, as contemporary portraits were thought to be destroyed after her execution. History applicants can think about the use of paintings as sources, particularly from a time before photography. They could also how contemporary events can affect the kinds of sources and information that we are able to study in the present day.
Until now, the only confirmed image of Anne has been on the ‘The Moost Happi’ Medal in the British Museum, which was stamped in 1534 to commemorate the expected birth of her son. However, scientists now believe they have identified a portrait of the queen, known as the Nidd Hall portrait. The scientists used facial recognition software, which compared the new image with the previously confirmed image of Anne. Amit Roy- Chowdury of the University of California said that a range of portraits thought to be Anne were compared using the software but that the only one it identified as having the same face as on the medal was the Nidd Hall portrait. She is also wearing jewellery long believed to be Boleyn’s.
Computer Science and Biology applicants can look further into how the software itself works, by comparing selected facial features. The software has failed to resolve other debates in the world of Art History, such as whether Italian painter Caravaggio gave one of his figures in The Entombment of Christ the features of Michelangelo.
Art historians have previously debated whether the Nidd Hall portrait is in fact Anne Boleyn or her successor Jane Seymour. Students interested in History of Art can look further into this debate and the significance of portraiture in the period.