Monday, March 9, 2009

Shakespeare Portrait: This Could be the Real Deal

"Unique portrait from Shakespeare's life unveiled"
CNN (March 9, 2009)

"LONDON, England (CNN) -- London's Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Monday unveiled what they called the only portrait of William Shakespeare painted during his lifetime.

" 'The evidence that it represents Shakespeare and that is was done from life, though it is circumstantial, is in my view overwhelming,' Professor Stanley Wells, chairman of the trust, said Monday. 'I feel in little doubt that this is a portrait of Shakespeare, done from life.'..."

I think we may be looking at Shakespeare, here. As Professor Wells said, the evidence is circumstantial. But, if you follow trials a bit, you'll realize that circumstantial evidence isn't bad evidence: it's circumstantial.

Actually, the Droeshout portrait (the one that's just about everywhere - including my Riverside Shakespeare) - could be of the same man, a few years later. Men with northwestern European ancestry do have a tendency to go bald.


Sue L - Kingston NH said...

That is not a portrait of William Shakespeare, at any age. The ratio of eye width to forehead height and forehead shape is far off from most known portraits of the playwright. The eyes in most if not all Shakespeare portraits are more rounded and slightly sunken in. This is more likely a picture of Sir Walter Raleigh (check the facial features and proportions then find images of Sir Walter on the internet to compare). Unless the family has documented proof that it is William Shakespeare in the picture, I would suggest a forensic re-examination and comparison of facial features in this portrait to "known" and/or "reliable" portraits.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Sue L - Kingston NH,

I've seen the standard portrait, the bust, and this: You could be right.

On the other hand, photorealism wasn't achieved all that often in the good old days. Example: The top of Martin Luther's head, in one portrait (not an anti-Luther piece) didn't match the part under his hair.

I expect that there will be a great deal of discussion of this portrait.

I didn't know the Bard of Avon personally, so I can't say which is more accurate.

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