Portraits of a Queen: Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s Third Wife
Jane Seymour was the third wife of Henry VIII. Some have noted that she was his favorite, but only because she provided him with the long awaited son. She died shortly after giving birth to him in 1537. The Seymour family rose with titles and power along with their sweet Jane.
Jane Seymour was a descendant of King Edward III’s son Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence. Because of this, she and Henry VIII were fifth cousins.
Jane was likely educated by her mother. She was trained in needlework, household management and cookery. She could read and write her name. She also enjoyed outdoor sport including horseback riding and following the hunt.
Sometime during the 1520s Jane joined Katherine of Aragon’s household. It was while in Katherine’s household that she grew to know and love the Princess Mary…and Katherine herself. Jane so greatly admired the queen that she later modeled her own reign after her. – Jane Seymour’s Rise to the Throne
Here are some portraits we were able to find of Jane Seymour and we’ve tried our best to give appropriate credit to.
Most portraits of Jane Seymour were actually of Anne Boleyn as Jane just did not live long enough to have posed for them. This was decided as a symbolic gesture so she was forever to be known as the mother of his heir.
Most were adapted by changing the headdress to the gable style which Anne refused to wear as she favoured French fashions and preferred the headdress that sat further back on her head thus showing off the hair on her head.
Anne Boleyn was also famous for wearing the letter B suspended from the choker around her neck. For the Jane Seymour adaptions this was changed to a jewelled ornament.
It is important to realise that most of the people in Tudor England had little idea what either of the women looked like. Some historians say that Anne Boleyn was actually a redhead, despite many thinking she was a brunette. Red hair was very common in Tudor times, much more common than today.
In order for a red haired child to be born, both parents have to carry the ginger gene. If only one parent has the gene then while their hair may be another colour, their facial and body hair will be ginger. All three of Henry viii’s children had red hair. All by three different women.
Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard were all related. Some portraits that are said to be of Anne Boleyn are actually of her sister Mary. Though in my mind the sisters look very different to each other. Anne has a small thin mouth and very thin eyebrows. Mary has sensuous lips and full eyebrows. Mary Boleyn is usually painted as a blonde, though I have seen one painting that showed her as having red hair.
There is a wonderful painting of Elizabeth I at the age of 13 or 14. It was done in 1547. Many said she was the spitting image of her mother.
Why was each potrait so different? And how many portraits did she have? Maybe she was quiet because she spent all her time posing for potraits?
There are, as far as I know, only 5 portraits that were painted during Jane Seymour’s lifetime: 2 paintings by Holbein (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum and The Hague, Mauritshuis) plus a preparatory sketch for them (Royal Collection, Windsor Castle); a portrait miniature by Lucas Hornebolte (or Horenbout); and the portrait (English school) owned by the Society of Antiquaries. All other pictures are based on these. And as the centuries went by, Jane’s features were more and more softened … , that’s why most of the portraits are so different. Sorry to say, but the 5 likenesses mentioned above show the undisputed truth – she was by no means a beauty queen.
My mother is a Howard great grandaughter as well as a Nevill. She is therefore related to every wife of Henry VIII. Mary Bolyne-Carrey is our 12th great grandmother and This wonderful woman: Jane Semour is our 2nd cousin married to Henry VIII. Their son Edward VI is our second cousin depending on which side from which you count. D. Charles Rice 1948 Nebraska Dudley/Tudors
The pictures are all similar. I would go with Hol win as being the best representation. He was such a great artist that it is likely that he has captured her likeness better than most. Needless to say she doesn’t appear to be a looker by modern standards.
The impression I always had was that she was a somewhat plain, quiet, mild – in short, Anti-Boleyn Matter. When I was young I thought she was horribly boring, but of course that’s how one got by with a guy like Henry. Ann of Cleves also survived by being boring.
Very pretty. I’ve only seen the Holbein one where she is not pretty at all. I very much like the others. Thanks!
I didn’t know she was his favorite wife. She doesn’t look frivolous or fun loving, but rather dour in these depictions.
I believe she was his favorite wife – he is buried next to her. She gave him the son he so desired, unlike his other wives. They really weren’t together long enough for him to start to dislike her. The question will always be, what if she had survived, would he have fallen out of love with her? I think Jane was the most like his mother EoY and that is what he most desired. A wife like his beloved mother.