The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1806 Tuesday, 1 November 2005
Date: Thursday, 27 Oct 2005 22:31:44 -0700
Subject: 'Grafton Portrait' of Shakespeare is somebody else, says
National Portrait Gallery
Shakespeare portrait is a fake
By Catriona Davies
Telegraph, Oct. 28, 2005
An iconic portrait used on the cover of numerous books about William
Shakespeare is not of the playwright at all, the National Portrait
Gallery said yesterday. [See Telegraph article for Grafton portrait]
It is now thought that the Grafton Portrait depicts another man who
lived at the same time as Shakespeare.
The painting was previously believed to have shown the Bard at the age
of 24, and its beauty, sensitivity and passion helped to inspire the
image of him portrayed in the film Shakespeare in Love.
However yesterday, after a nine-month investigation, the National
Portrait Gallery said there was no evidence that the painting was of
At the age of 24, Shakespeare would have been unable to afford the
sumptuous silk and satin jacket worn by the man, having recently become
a father to twins and possibly joining a travelling theatre troupe.
Research and restoration did confirm that it depicts a contemporary of
Shakespeare, as it was painted in 1588 when he was 24. An inscription on
the painting records the age of the sitter as 24.
Dr Tarnya Cooper, the 16th century curator at the National Portrait
Gallery, said: "The painting hasn't really been looked at in a
systematic way before. It's an expensive and timely process.
"But the painting has fuelled the kind of Shakespeare in Love theories
of the 21st century, of a beautiful young man with a sensitive and
passionate face, of a character with an incredible emotional range."
The portrait, owned by the John Rylands Library in Manchester, shows a
young man with curly brown hair and grey eyes.
The National Portrait Gallery began its investigation into the veracity
of six portraits claimed to be of Shakespeare nine months ago in
preparation for its "Searching For Shakespeare" exhibition next year.
The next painting to be examined will be one called the Chandos portrait.
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