The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1735 Thursday, 16 September 2004
Date: Wednesday, 15 Sep 2004 16:27:40 -0700
Subject: See Chandos, Sanders, Grafton, Flowers portraits all together
Disputed painting of Shakespeare takes centre stage for portrait
gallery's 150th anniversary show
By Louise Jury Arts Correspondent
The Independent, 16 September 2004
A portrait of Shakespeare that was the first work given to the National
Portrait Gallery will form the centrepiece of an exhibition celebrating
the institution's 150th anniversary in 2006.
The so-called Chandos portrait, which has been the subject of fierce
debate over whether it really does feature Shakespeare, is set to be
joined by other controversial portraits of the writer whose life is
The National Portrait Gallery's work, named because it was once owned by
the Duke of Chandos, has been attributed to a painter called John Taylor
and dated to around 1610.
Sandy Nairne, the gallery's director, said yesterday he was convinced it
really was Shakespeare. "But it is intriguing because it's a portrait
about which everyone has argued."
There are records which show it was originally owned by the playwright
and theatre manager Sir William Davenant, born in 1606, who claimed to
have been Shakespeare's illegitimate son.
Other works which the gallery has secured tentative agreement to show
include the portrait which emerged a couple of years ago in the hands of
a family called Sanders in Canada which has a crumbling label bearing
the legend "Shakespere" on the back, the Grafton portrait in the Rylands
Library in Manchester and the Flowers portrait owned by the Royal
Shakespeare Company (RSC).
Jacob Simon, the chief curator, said there were perhaps half a dozen
17th century portraits which were contenders to be considered genuine
portraits of the Bard although nearly all have been the subject of
But he pointed out that there were archive boxes of dozens of portraits
which supposedly depict Shakespeare. "Over the years there are probably
a couple of hundred that at one stage or another people have thought 'he
looks like a writer, he must be ...'," Mr Simon said.
The celebration of Shakespeare will coincide with a massive festival of
Shakespeare being planned by the RSC which is to present all his plays
in one season. [See Google News index on this story:
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