The Belmont Portrait is one of the more vague and seldom seen images of Anne Boleyn based on the B Pattern. This specific portrait is named in this study after one of its documented owners and as far as I am aware, it has never before been published, nor has it ever been exhibited in any gallery or museum.
The portraits existence is purely known through a selection of old black and white images held in the Frick Art Reference Library, New York. This is probably the first ever effort to study this painting and its connection to other portraits utilising the B Pattern in a scholarly manner.
The painting is executed in oil on a wooden panel and measures 20 x 14 ½ inches. The portrait depicts the head and upper torso of an adult female who appears before a plain dark background. She is turned slightly to the viewers left, though her eyes engage the viewer directly. Her face is oval in shape, with a high forehead. Her hair is dark in colour, appears straight, and is worn parted in the centre of the crown and pulled back over her ears and under her headwear. Her eyes appear dark in colour and her eyebrows are thin and arched. The nose is straight with a high bridge and her lips are small and thin.
The sitter’s costume includes a French hood, ending just below the jawline. This is constructed with the use of black fabric that includes the use of an upper and lower billiment of pearls. A black veil is also seen hanging down at the back. At her neck she wears two strings of pearls with a large letter B pendant of goldsmith work and three hanging pearls suspended from the upper necklace. A gold chain is also seen at the neck, that falls and disappears into the front of the sitter’s bodice. The gown itself is constructed of a dark fabric with what appears to be the hint of large fur sleeves, seen at the bottom edges of the portrait. The upper edge of the bodice is cut squared and a chemise, embroidered with blackwork protrudes along the entire bodice margin.
There are no identifying inscriptions readily visible on the painted surface and no photograph of the reverse of the painting is available.
Documented as Flemish School
As highlighted above, very little is known regarding the early provenance for this particular portrait. An information sheet, stored along with the old photographic images in the Frick Library does inform us that the portrait was once in the collection of a Mrs Belmont and that it was purchased form her by a Malcom Sands Wilson of New York. It is also recorded that the old black and white photographic images of this portrait were acquired for the Frick Collection in the April of 1936 form Mrs Belmont.
This portrait’s current location remains unknown, at this point in time. As far as I am aware the painting has not undergone any scientific investigation to establish a date of production or place of origin, so no precise date can be documented. From the records held in the Frick Collection it does appear that the painting was deemed significant enough to undergo some restoration techniques. The restoration work was completed by William Hisgrove of New York in 1936 and a photographic image which was taken of the portrait before this took place clearly shows the that later overpaint, and old varnish was removed were removed during this process. This suggests that the portrait was possibly of a significant age when the restoration work was completed.
In my opinion, what is significant about the Belmont Portrait it that, of the many copies related to the B pattern, this, is probably the closest in comparison to the portrait in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.
This copy, Known as NPG668, was purchased by the Gallery in 1882 and will be discussed in later part of this study. All portrait relating to the B pattern have significant differences in the finer details which are applied by the artist. Though slightly bigger in size, the facial feature seen in NPG668 are noticeably similar to those depicted in the Belmont Copy. The blackwork design depicted on the chemise, worn under the sitter’s bodice is also depicted in an identical manner.
It is my opinion that, the Belmont portrait is of significant interest, due to it similarities to NPG668. It would certainly be interesting if The National Portrait Gallery where able to locate the Belmont paintings current whereabouts and attempt to clarify if indeed there is any possible connection between the two portraits.
Frick Art Reference Library, New York, https://arcade.nyarc.org/record=b1512889~S1, accessed August 2020
 See NPG668 Object File for More information.
8 thoughts on “The B Pattern: The Belmont Portrait”
Thanks for bringing this to light!
Wow! Thanks for bringing this to light!
Your very welcome! Glad you found it of interest.
Wow, what an impressive find! So beautiful and so close to the features of NPG668! Thank you for showing it to us! 😊
I can already tell this is going to be a very interesting series of articles!
I love the B pattern portraits and I love the objective, informative and fascinating way you manage to write about paintings, it’s always such a joy to read. I can’t figure out if it’s a gift or a skill! 😊😊😊
Thank you so much for that! Yes, I have become slight obsessed with the B Pattern of Anne, I had no idea there was so many copies.
I have been quietly gathering information for about a year now so I have lots to come. This doesn’t mean I have abandoned my search for a portrait of Lady Jane Grey and this will also continue. Once again thank you 😀
How could anybody not be obsessed with the B pattern Anne Boleyn? 😊
That is so exciting! I am really looking forward to it, because the B pattern Anne is such a striking, iconic image, both because of the story, naturally, but there is something about the image itself that goes so well with the story.
An iconic image for an iconic woman.
And, I realise when you wrote it, there really isn’t much out there on it! It really deserves the attention. And I am so glad that you have taken an interest in it, allowing me to read more about it! 😊😊😊
I am also very glad that you will continue to present your findings on Lady Jane Grey 😊 I love that you have found new and exciting findings there too!
Yes. The Belmont portrait is very similar to the NPG 668. In the latter the artists have altered the structure of her face, and perhaps changed the tone of her hair colour. It looks as though her eye tone is slightly different, too.
I’d suggest that there might have been conventions of fashion which dictated the way artists could confect – and even confabulate – the nature of an image to suit the vagaries of fashion at the time….
It certainly seems there must have been an ‘original’ on which this iconic image of Anne was based. I am beginning to doubt whether it would have been Holbein ‘wot dunnit’, as it were; references in the copies to a ‘Flemish School’ would suggest that any original would have been painted by a Flemish or Dutch artist – take, for example – Lucas Cornelisszoon de Kock. His name is even appended to one of the portraits of Anne, with the date given as 1534.
Hans Holbein tended regularly to insist on printing, in Roman type, the sitter’s age around his or her head: ‘Anno aetatis svae’.. As far as I am aware, no portrait of Anne I have seen alludes to her age when she sat for it…..and to this day, authoritative historians cannot discern from the three bits of evidence available, the year in which she was born, and what age she might have been when the King sent her unhustly to the ‘Hochgericht’ stand in May 1536.
Dr Andrew Taylor