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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: March ::
Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0234  Tuesday, 28 March 2006

[1] 	From: 	David Basch <
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	Date: 	Monday, 27 Mar 2006 12:10:24 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0225 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine

[2] 	From: 	Sara Fink <
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	Date: 	Monday, 27 Mar 2006 12:55:15 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0225 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Basch <
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Date: 		Monday, 27 Mar 2006 12:10:24 -0500
Subject: 17.0225 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0225 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine

No one on our list has brought up the subject of an etching of the 
Shakespeare monument in Holy Trinity Church made in 1646 by Sir William 
Dugdale, an antiquarian, who happened to pass by to visit the monument. 
  (Check him out on the internet. His drawing is in Charlton Ogburn's 
book on de Vere as Shakespeare - Mysterious Wm Shakespeare??.) It shows 
a different image of the poet with a more gaunt face with a goatee beard 
and holding on to a sack of grain, not a desk, and without a pen. This 
sketch was presented in Nicholas Rowe's 1709 Life of Shakespeare.

Much later, the sculpture changed into the rotund, more jolly version of 
what we have now with desk and quill.

The early sculpture would suggest that the locals in Stratford had no 
idea that Shakespeare was a playwright and knew him as a landowner and 
grain merchant in the town. Later on, his reputation caught up in his 
home town and led to the revised sculpture we know today, but not the 
information that it had been revised.

Therefore, I would not bet on using today's sculpture as a basis for 
knowing what the poet looked like, unless it was from the Dugdale 
etching.  This image would have been of a sculpture that was made at a 
time when people who knew what the poet looked like were around. It 
would put paintings like that by Hilliard and the Grafton portrait in 
the running as authentic portraits.

I believe that the Hilliard portrait in private hands is an authentic 
portrait of Shakespeare. It was ruled out for the flimsiest of evidence 
as not looking like the 1623 Folio etching even while Leslie Hotson gave 
a persuasive case for considering it as authentic. In context, the fact 
that it did not look like Folio etching may indicate that Hotson was on 
the right track. Why the Hilliard painting was not on the list of 
possibilities is beyond my ken since there is as much, if not more, 
evidence for it than for the Chandos.

David Basch

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sara Fink <
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 >
Date: 		Monday, 27 Mar 2006 12:55:15 -0500
Subject: 17.0225 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0225 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine

David Basch wrote:

 >No one on our list has brought up the subject of an etching of the
 >Shakespeare monument in Holy Trinity Church made in 1646 by Sir William
 >Dugdale, an antiquarian, who happened to pass by to visit the monument.
 >(Check him out on the internet. His drawing is in Charlton Ogburn's 
book on
 >de Vere as Shakespeare - Mysterious Wm Shakespeare??.) It shows a 
different
 >image of the poet with a more gaunt face with a goute beard and holding on
 >to a sack of grain, not a desk, and without a pen. This sketch was
 >presented in Nicholas Rowe's 1709 Life of Shakespeare.

People who for one reason or another want to think that the man from 
Stratford didn't write the plays and poems have tried to make much of 
Dugdale's image of the monument, but it's just a poor sketch with badly 
done perspective on the cushion (the cushion lacks proper 
foreshortening).  (And the pen is a separate item that kept having to be 
replaced, so its presence or absence doesn't have any significance). 
The monument itself has been repainted, whitewashed, repainted, 
repaired, but never replaced.

The kind of fidelity in making a version of something that we take for 
granted -- whether that thing is a portrait or a text -- wasn't 
important in the 16th or 17th centuries; variation from originals was 
not only expected, it was valued.  (The multiple copies of Queen 
Elizabeth's portraits often had variations in them, for example.  Not to 
mention the whole interest in variation shown by a school text like 
Erasmus's _De copia_).

Hotson's reasons for thinking the Hilliard (which is dated 1588) is 
Shakespeare rests in part upon his linking that portrait with the 
mysterious Young Man Among Roses portrait; and it depends especially 
upon linking those two with the "companion" theme in Shakespeare's 
sonnets, and with an early date of original composition (for at least 
some of those sonnets).  There is absolutely no tradition or provenance 
information that would link that Hilliard with Shakespeare 
(unfortunately, perhaps), and that is not likely to change.

So appealing as Hotson's conjectures might be (and some scholars, e.g. 
Schoenbaum, were seriously put off by Hotson's style), Hotson's 
enthusiastic confidence in his identification is not shared by people 
who want something more solid.  (And his dating the sonnets as largely 
complete by 1588 has been shown decisively to be wrong, by recent 
analyses of rare words and word links with much later plays -- perhaps 
due to revision, or perhaps simply to later composition, even post-1600, 
significantly beyond the 1590s that used to be received wisdom).

Whether we like it or not, the Chandos still has much stronger evidence 
for its authenticity :-)

Sara Fink

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