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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: March ::
Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0144  Thursday, 9 March 2006

From: 		Joseph Egert <
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 >
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? 
Anybody know?

Regards,
Joe Egert

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