The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0144 Thursday, 9 March 2006
Date: Wednesday, 08 Mar 2006 16:51:23 +0000
Subject: 17.0116 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
Comment: RE: SHK 17.0116 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
Bill Lloyd asks:
>Does this John Taylor have any verifiable independent existence
>other than as the painter of this portrait? I've seen him confused
>in print with the actor Joseph Taylor, and with John Taylor the
>Water-poet, but that's just carelessness.
>Who was he?
In her short densely argued 1982 BURLINGTON MAGAZINE piece, Mary Edmond
identifies John Taylor (d.1651) as a prominent London artist of The
Worshipful Company of Painters-Stainers. Taylor ran the "cursus honorum"
of his Company, serving successively as Renter (Lower) Warden in 1631-2,
then Upper Warden in 1635-6, and finally Master in 1643-4. Edmond
includes a group portrait (by Cornelius Johnson?) of the three Company
officials from 1631-2, showing the grizzle-bearded Taylor flanking his
Master John Potkin and holding a small picture of (?)Saint Catherine of
Alexandria. Edmund believes that Taylor, while in his thirties, painted
Shakespeare during his final London years, yielding the Chandos portrait.
The Chandos was clearly favored by late 17th and 18th C. literary and
artistic circles. Both the Chandos-based Chesterfield portrait (c.1660)
and the Kneller copy for Dryden (c.1689) show the earring but no collar
strings (restored in Vandergucht's frontispiece engraving for Rowe's
1709 Shakespeare's edition). The master antiquary of 18th C. Britain
George Vertue used the Chandos head for his 1721 Stratford monument
engraving for Pope's 1725 Shakespeare edition. Probably based on a
detailed eyewitness drawing, Vertue's reproduction (but for some altered
putti/inscription elements) is otherwise a replica of the current
pen/paper-holding stone effigy. Despite his own 1737 eyewitnessing of
the "live" Stratford monument, Vertue carried the deception with him to
his grave. The poet Alexander Pope may indeed have orchestrated the
fraud, with a view to basing the proposed Westminster Abbey statue of WS
(built 1740/1) on the Chandos. Spiteful duplicitous creature that he
was, Pope never forgave Theobald for exposing the former's scholarly
incompetence in matters Shakespearian--hence the DUNCIAD. In his 1725
edition, Pope includes Rowe's 1709 bio of WS but misleads the reader by
setting the Vertue engraving opposite Rowe's reference to the monument:
the reference was in fact to the Dugdale-derived (?)Vandergucht
engraving in Rowe's own 1709 edition.
Question: Have the current NPG Chandos tests proven the earring and
collar strings integral to the original painting or later add-ons?
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