It has been in the Royal Collection for hundreds of years, catalogued anonymously as a “Portrait of a Woman”, possibly copied from a lost picture by Hans Holbein, court painter to Henry VIII. Now its sitter has been identified as Mary Boleyn, the king’s beguiling mistress and sister of his beheaded second wife Anne.
The new research firmly links the picture to a set of 14 “Beauties” that decorated Queen Anne’s Bathing Room at Windsor Castle 300 years ago – only to be separated in the 19th century because it looked so different from the others.
Although the pictures were each painted in the 17th century and have similar gilt frames, this one seemed the odd-one-out because the sitter is in 16th-century dress. The other