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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
Grafton Portrait
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1817  Thursday, 3 November 2005

[1] 	From: 	Peter Bridgman <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 1 Nov 2005 17:35:10 -0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

[2] 	From: 	Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 1 Nov 2005 11:35:23 -0600
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

[3] 	From: 	David Basch <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 01 Nov 2005 14:02:06 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

[4] 	From: 	Norman Hinton <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 01 Nov 2005 13:37:36 -0600
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

[5] 	From: 	Jan Pick <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 1 Nov 2005 20:31:02 -0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

[6] 	From: 	Sandra Sparks <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 2 Nov 2005 08:42:09 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

[7] 	From: 	Richard Burt <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 2 Nov 2005 12:12:44 -0500
	Subj: 	Greenblatt in Love (with Will in the World)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 1 Nov 2005 17:35:10 -0000
Subject: 16.1806 Grafton Portrait
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

 >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.

Maybe, but would WS have posed for a portrait in his everyday wear?  And 
while WS at 24 may not have been able to afford sumptuous silks, his 
wealthy father certainly could have.

Peter Bridgman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 1 Nov 2005 11:35:23 -0600
Subject: 16.1806 Grafton Portrait
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

This baffles me. They have concluded that the painting is not of 
Shakespeare because at 24 he wouldn't have had the ready cash to afford 
the clothes he's shown wearing.

Very likely, but by no means certain. He could have worn a stage 
costume. The artist could easily have done the head and faked the costume.

What is much more telling is the unlikelihood of Shakespeare having his 
portrait painted at 24. How could he have afforded THAT? Perhaps lots of 
country boys had their portraits painted after they'd been in the city a 
couple of years-but I doubt it.

If the painting really does date from 1588 (and why are they so sure?), 
and it has been known for some time to date from that year, how could it 
have ever been assumed to be a portrait of WS?

Cheers,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Basch <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 01 Nov 2005 14:02:06 -0500
Subject: 16.1806 Grafton Portrait
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

The "Arts Briefly" column in the NY Times (10.31.05), compiled by Ben 
Sasario, also presented the conclusion of National Portrait Gallery 
(NPG) in London that the so-called Grafton Portrait is not that of 
William Shakespeare. While the investigation as reported in the 
Telegraph was supposedly thorough, the conclusion is suspect because the 
reason for it given by the curator of the NPG, Tarnya Cooper, reported 
in the Times is most insubstantial.

The Grafton portrait is a portrait of a very sensitive looking young man 
and contains in it the date and age of the sitter (1588 and 24), dates 
that conform to William Shakespeare, a curious coincidence if that is 
what it was.

The reason given by the NPG's curator for discounting this portrait was 
that the garb of the sitter would have been too expensive for the young 
Shakespeare at the time. This is meager evidence since there is so much 
about the poet that we don't know. He could very well have borrowed a 
wardrobe for the sitting or it could have been dubbed in. One might also 
have wondered about the cost of such a portrait, which matter did not 
seem to trouble the NPG since this aspect was not mentioned. But even 
such a financial hurdle could be explained by its subsidation by an 
early and devoted supporter of this amazing young man, whose writing 
talents and deportment must have already been evident.

One must therefore wonder at the NPG's definite conclusion about 
something about which there remains many loose ends, unless they have 
other information not reported. The Grafton in the end could still be an 
authentic portrait of the poet.

Could the NPG have been concerned that the Grafton portrait would call 
into question the etching of the poet in the 1623 folio? The coarse, 
vapid, face in the folio differs from the soulful looking elongated face 
in the Grafton. What is more, the folio etching has been called into 
question in its own right as a result of the finding that a portion of 
the etching surrounding the eyes is an overlay of a known etching of 
Queen Elizabeth.

The irregularity concerning the folio etching is not the only 
abnormality found in connection with Shakespeare likenesses. An etching 
by Sir William Dugdale in 1646 of the original Stratford monument shows 
a different face on Shakespeare and other differences from that of the 
present day stone monument that exists today. A switch in the monument 
had obviously been made. The bearded face shown in the Dugdale etching 
could be an aged version of the one in the Grafton. What is more, the 
Grafton portrait resembles the face in the portrait of a mysterious man 
by Nicholas Hilliard that bears the same 1588 date. That Hilliard 
portrait was alleged by Yale professor Leslie Hotson after exhaustive 
study to have been of William Shakespeare. Nicholas Hilliard was the 
Queen's favorite portraitist and he had made twin miniature versions of 
this portrait, one of which is in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the 
second version is in a private collection.

The announced Chandos portrait to be discussed by the NPG is a later 
painting and no serious scholar thinks that it authentically shows 
Shakespeare. It will be interesting to learn what the NPG has to say 
about this and about other alleged portraits of the poet or if NPG will 
even comment on the Hilliard paintings. I hope the NPG will be more 
convincing on the others than they have been on the Grafton.

David Basch

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Norman Hinton <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 01 Nov 2005 13:37:36 -0600
Subject: 16.1806 Grafton Portrait
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

Notice that there are three different analyses of the picture -- a 
"fake" in the headlines, a 'picture of someone else' in the first 
paragraph, and "no evidence the picture (is) of Shakespeare" in 
paragraph 4.  Good old journalism.

Shakespeare portrait is a fake
By Catriona Davies
(Filed: 28/10/2005)

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.

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 
Shakespeare.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jan Pick <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 1 Nov 2005 20:31:02 -0000
Subject: 16.1806 Grafton Portrait
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

Oh?  And have you read the Peter Ackroyd scoff at the idea that 
Shakespeare could not afford the outfit?  Considering that a theatre 
company would have access to such oufits.......?  Could Marlowe have 
afforded his 'kit'?  He was poor as well!

Jan

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sandra Sparks <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 2 Nov 2005 08:42:09 -0500
Subject: 16.1806 Grafton Portrait
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1806 Grafton Portrait

What makes them assume the jacket is that fancy? It is a rather plain 
portrait. So is the young man's hair and demeanor. As for not affording 
the portrait - if an artist is starving enough, or still learning his 
trade, any sitter's small amount of money would do, then and now.

Has anyone ever come across information about a death mask that might 
have assisted in the making of the memorial bust at his burial place?

The one portrait I feel they can completely discount is the Chandos. 
Anything William Davenant had anything to do with should be suspect. It 
does not resemble any other image of Shakespeare at the time.

Sandra

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Richard Burt <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 2 Nov 2005 12:12:44 -0500
Subject: 	Greenblatt in Love (with Will in the World)

Anyone notice the Shakespeare in Love comment in the following article:

Painting Ruled Out as a Portrait of Young Shakespeare

A portrait long thought to depict a young William Shakespeare does not, 
the National Portrait Gallery in London announced on Friday. The oil 
painting, known as the Grafton Portrait, dates from 1588, when 
Shakespeare was 24, and shows a dark-haired young man with piercing gray 
eyes, wearing a rich scarlet jacket. An inscription says the subject is 
24. But a curator from the gallery said that there was no other evidence 
to link the portrait to the playwright and that Shakespeare, then a 
journeyman actor and writer, would not have been able to afford the 
luxurious garments worn in the painting. The curator, Tarnya Cooper, 
said the painting "has fueled 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 
BBC reported. In April, scholars at the gallery, using X-rays and 
ultraviolet light, among other techniques, concluded that another 
presumed Shakespeare image, the "Flower Portrait," was a fake made in 
the 19th century.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/31/arts/31arts.html

Greenblatt mentions the film in the preface to Will in the World and of 
course wrote an op-ed piece about it in the NY Times.

The article prompts a few questions for me not so much about Greenblatt, 
who I greatly admire as a very generous person and as an extraordinarily 
gifted scholar, as about historicist and political Shakespeare criticism 
generally (Harold Bloom might serve as well as Greenblatt in prompting 
my questions):

1. Does the move to do Shakespeare biography mark a fuller mediatization 
(via film, journalism, and television interviews) of the Shakespearean 
(and the professor / intellectual more generally. Fiction and friction 
now recast as fiction and fiction?

2. How does the move to do Shakespeare biography relate both to the 
autobiographical anecdote? Greenblatt first told an anecdote at the end 
of Renaissance Self-fashioning, and other autobiographical stories and 
musings may be found in the preface to Marvelous Possessions and in 
Hamlet in Purgatory. The preface to Will in the World offers something 
different--something closer to a coded clue that Will in the World is 
not only a biography but an encrypted autobiography. At any rate, this 
is the standard reading of Will in the World in academic circles (or at 
least the ones in which I travel). It seems that the anecdote that 
launched the typical new historicist article has been expanded into a 
novelization of biography that is at the same time an autobiography.

Nothing is totally specific to Greenblatt. Michael Dobson said in his 
review of Jim Shapiro's 1599 that the book was an unwitting 
autobiography. Shapiro's Shakespeare looked a lot like Shapiro.

None of this is meant as a fault of Greenblatt or Shapiro. Dobson's 
review was very positive. I haven't read it but expect I would concur. I 
love Will in the World. Both biographies, though taking different 
approaches (fiction versus archive also produce very similar accounts of 
Shakespeare. I think there is something specific about these new 
Shakespeare biographies; they don't just confirm a truism that all 
biographers more or less (un)consciously tell their own stories in their 
biographies.

There is something about the paratext (Greenblatt's anecdotes tend to be 
told in partextual materials--epilogue, preface, op-ed piece) that 
strikes me as key, as does the need to define the Shakespeare biography 
against various some accounts of what one nut called the Shakespeare 
code (someone else wrote the plays) and on behalf of other coded 
accounts (Shakespeare as crypto-Catholic).

Just trying to make sense of some developments in the field.

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