The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2570 Thursday, 7 November 2001
Date: Wednesday, 07 Nov 2001 18:37:33 -0700
Subject: Shakespeare Portrait
While trolling through the archives of our local newspaper on a
different mission, I happen across this item dated November 17, 1948
concerning an alleged portrait of WS. There was no follow-up article
that I could find, and a Google-search on Clifford Bax yielded no info
on this portrait. I wonder if any member of the list might know
anything further about this strange sounding picture.
Medicine Hat College
FINDER OF PORTRAIT OF WM. SHAKESPEARE WANTS RESPITE --
LONDON (Reuters) -- Playwright Clifford Bax has appealed for a respite
for the flood of "pilgrims" and curiosity-seekers who have besieged his
home since he claimed he found out how William Shakespeare really
looked. Every mail brings a shower of letters--many of them
argumentative missives from people who believe that Sir Francis Bacon
wrote the Shakespeare plays.
Strangers constantly invade the old-world peace of the Albany--a quiet
cul-de-sac off Piccadilly in the heart of London--where, like Lord Byron
and Lord Macauly before him, Bax has his home.
The top-hatted porter sizes them up on sight. "It's about the picture
of Shakespeare, I suppose? Third door on your right."
The picture of Shakespeare is the centre of a controversy between art
experts and Shakespearean scholars.
Bax bought the painting for $320 from an Italian priest. On the back of
the canvas is an elegant inscription in archaic Italian claiming that
the portrait represents "the great English poet Gulielmo Scespirio,"
that it was painted by Franz Hals and given to the monastery of Santo
Gregorio by the Earl of Nithsdale before he died in 1744.
Inquiries made at the monastery yielded no information, most of the
records having disappeared. Art experts have decided that the painter
was not Franz Hals but belonged to the school of Van Dyke, contemporary
The portrait, about three feet by two, shows an old man with straggling
silvery hair and the look of tormented genius on his face. The painting
shows that Shakespeare--if it is he--had lost his top teeth in old age.
Many Shakespearean scholars are convinced that the man in the painting
is the famous bard; art experts will not commit themselves.
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