Monday, March 09, 2009

Shakespeare Portrait Found?

Big news from the Shakespeare world today, as a senior scholar "unveils" a portrait he believes to be that of the Bard, dating from c. 1610. Stanley Wells, professor emeritus of Shakespeare Studies at Birmingham University, says that after three years of research he's convinced that the painting, owned by the Cobbe family, represents Shakespeare at about 46 years of age. Wells, the chair of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said of the painting: "The evidence that it represents Shakespeare and that is was done from life, though it is circumstantial, is in my view overwhelming. I feel in little doubt that this is a portrait of Shakespeare, done from life."

The current owner, Alec Cobbe, noticed what he thought was as copy of his family's painting in a National Portrait Gallery exhibit several year ago, "Searching for Shakespeare." He asked Wells to assist in authenticating the painting, and they had the portrait subjected to a battery of tests, the results of which, Wells says, make a decent case that this is the real deal (and the source for several copies).

Some paintings in the Cobbe family collection once belonged to the Earl of Southampton, a known Shakespeare patron, although it is not known if this particular one did.

The portrait will be temporarily displayed at the Shakespeare Birthplace in Stratford-on-Avon beginning next month, according to media reports.

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