So THIS is why Henry VIII called wife No.4 the Flanders Mare! Anne of Cleves is an upside down image of the king in portraits
25th November 2011
From the look on his face, Henry VIII is certainly upset about something.
Turn the portrait upside down and you will see what’s on his mind.
Hidden in the king’s features is none other than Anne of Cleves – the bride he considered so ugly that he never consummated their marriage.
The double portrait from the 1940s is the work of artist Rex Whistler and is to be revealed on tomorrow’s episode of Antiques Roadshow.
Show expert Rupert Maas said: ‘It’s just great fun. Anne wasn’t a very attractive woman according to popular history – although I’m not sure she was quite as hideous as this.’
Anne was the fourth of Henry’s six wives, sent over from Germany after he saw a flattering portrait by Holbein. On arrival, he called her the ‘Flanders Mare’.
They divorced six months after marrying in 1540. He married twice more while she remained in England and was given a generous settlement.
Henry and Anne are one of many double-acts Whistler made into reversible portraits. Mr Maas said: ‘Whistler preferred the old masters to modernism, which is why he drew and painted in an old-fashioned style.’