Monday, October 6, 2014

The Appearance of Anne Boleyn

From Conor Byrne:
Most scholars agree that it was not Anne's physical looks so much as her charm, her intelligence, her accomplishments, her wit, her fiery nature, her uniqueness, in short, that captivated Henry VIII and kept his attention for the best part of 10 years. Bordo thinks our fixation with Anne's physical appearance in popular culture may lie in twentieth- and twenty-first century limits of the concepts of attraction, 'fixated as they are on the surface of the body'. Henry VIII certainly wasn't fixated on the surface of Anne's body. By all accounts, he was completely taken with her in a way he never was with any of his subsequent wives or mistresses. There was, in short, something special about Anne that cannot be restricted to her body. 

Looking at Anne's portraits in an attempt to discern what she really looked like is a futile exercise. As mentioned earlier, none of them are contemporary to her, the earliest ones being produced something like fifty years after her death, and many of them later. Lacey Baldwin Smith, author of books on both Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, wittily quipped: 'Tudor portraits bear about as much resemblance to their subjects as elephants to prunes'. (Read more.)

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