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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Portrait of Southampton
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1096  Monday, 22 April 2002

[1]     From:   Takashi Kozuka <
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        Date:   Sunday, 21 Apr 2002 21:29:12 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Portrait of Southampton

[2]     From:   Richard Burt <
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        Date:   Sunday, 21 Apr 2002 17:22:07 -0400
        Subj:   Transvestite Southampton Portrait?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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 >
Date:           Sunday, 21 Apr 2002 21:29:12 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        Portrait of Southampton

>From The Times Online (21 April 2002)

Portrait is 'gay lover' of Bard

Sophie Kirkham

A PREVIOUSLY unknown portrait of the 3rd Earl of Southampton, the patron
and possible lover of William Shakespeare, has been uncovered showing
the earl wearing lipstick and an earring.

Southampton is believed to be "WH" to whom Shakespeare's sonnets were
dedicated, and the portrait has been described as a "remarkable" find by
experts.  Southampton was 10 years Shakespeare's junior and was his host
in London and Hampshire.

The portrait will go on display today at Hatchland Park, a National
Trust property in East Clandon, Surrey. Alec Cobbe, the owner of the
400-year-old picture by an unknown artist, had believed it was of a
female ancestor.

Cobbe, who leases Hatchlands from the National Trust to house the
family's collection of art and furniture, said: "My family always
believed it to be a dull portrait of an ancestor called Lady Norton."

Dated to 1590-93, the picture shows Southampton in a camp pose. His
distinctly feminine lips are brushed with red lipstick and rouge appears
to highlight his cheeks. An elaborate earring hangs from his left ear.

The National Trust's adviser on art, Alistair Laing, has said he is
"entirely convinced" of the painting's authenticity and called it "a
very exciting discovery".

Laing first cast doubt on the identification of the subject a few years
ago. As Cobbe subsequently searched his family history for a recent
exhibition of the family's collection he discovered connections between
the Cobbes and the Earls of Southampton.

"The penny finally dropped," said Cobbe. "Suddenly I realised that the
face reminded me of pictures I had seen during my research. 'My God,' I
thought, 'could this be the 3rd Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare's
patron and, perhaps, his lover?' " The features, when compared with
other known portraits of Southampton, indeed show similarities, but
Laing remained sceptical. However, after further research by Cobbe,
Laing has said: "The provenance of the picture is now entirely
convincing."

Southampton would have been between 17 and 20 when the portrait was
painted and many believe he was the "fair youth" addressed in the
sonnets. In sonnet 20, Shakespeare describes this youth as having "a
woman's face".

The Shakespearian expert Professor Stanley Wells said: "There's a story
that Southampton refused to marry a young woman and was fined 

 

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