Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: April ::
Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0277  Tuesday, 4 April 2006

[1] 	From: 	David Basch <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Monday, 03 Apr 2006 16:17:07 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0270 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine

[2] 	From: 	Gerald E. Downs <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Monday, 3 Apr 2006 20:55:36 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Basch <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Monday, 03 Apr 2006 16:17:07 -0400
Subject: 17.0270 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0270 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine

An objective view of the Dugdale drawing and etchings afterward can lead 
to the idea that the statue of Shakespeare was different in Dugdale's 
time.  The various renderings of the "cushions" instead of a tablet and 
the prominent display of both hands on this sack of grain would suggest 
this, not to mention the etchings based on Dugdale's head. The later 
1723 Vertue etching seems to present a different sculpture with a fuller 
face and the less prominent right hand that is now shown with a quill, 
markedly different from the Dugdale and the etchings. These observations 
remain true even though there is a report of a later "restoration" of 
the sculpture in 1749, which does not preclude an earlier switch.

While anti-Stradfordians may make much of such a change, those who would 
see the possibility of a change in sculptures on the basis of Dugdale, 
coupled with, perhaps, an inferred local desire to cover up the Town of 
Stratford's indifference to the poet in their midst, are not off their 
minds or cultists.

Why the extreme sweat over the issue? And why the ad hominum attacks on 
those who look squarely at the evidence and do not immediately credit 
the fusilade of defenses by "defenders" of officialdom or who knows what?

The folio etching has been suspect since it seems pretty awkward and 
cartoonish for that matter. While the Chandos portrait is 
Johnny-on-the-spot since it was there at approximately the right time 
and place, it otherwise is not tied to the poet. And it is entirely 
beside the point and irrelevant that, as reported in the New York Times, 
a 19th century critic objected to the Chandos on the basis that, "One 
cannot readily imagine our essentially English Shakespeare to have been 
a dark, heavy man, with a foreign expression, of decidedly Jewish 
physiognomy, thin curly hair, a somewhat lubricious mouth, red-edged 
eyes, wanton lips, with a coarse expression and his ears tricked out 
with earrings."

As to the Grafton portrait, it at least has Shakespeare's dates on it 
(24 in the year 1588) and so does the Hilliard painting have this same 
date (though no age) and can be seen to resemble the Grafton. There was 
even a Yale professor, Leslie Hotson, who devoted a whole book to the 
Hilliard as an authentic representation of the poet, basing this on the 
symbols and allusions in the painting. However, his colleagues have not 
supported him on this.

The world may just have to live with the fact that we don't as yet have 
a proof positive representation of the poet, unless other facts can 
emerge to create that connection.

David Basch

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Gerald E. Downs
  <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Monday, 3 Apr 2006 20:55:36 EDT
Subject: 	Re: Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine

Some questions have been raised on the thread "Chandos Portrait Probably 
Genuine" that should be treated as a topic in its own right.  David 
Basch questioned early representations of the Shakespeare monument and 
was directed by Bill Lloyd to the sterling Holloway web page for "a 
thorough analysis"; and advised by Joe Egert of his own opinion on 
whether the monument has been altered and whether the subject is worthy 
of further discussion. Basch is appreciative of help but suggests 
nevertheless that "if we look at these versions, most of which attempt 
to replicate the original sketch, we must conclude" something different 
from Joe Egert's opinion that the "monument itself never changed." Basch 
denies his opinion results from the 'rot of cultic distortions' and 
rightly objects that possible irregularities in the reported history are 
not necessarily subject to list taboo. These differences may be resolved 
with a closer look.

When Bill Lloyd reported that "Clark Holloway concludes," he would have 
been more accurate to note that Holloway's analysis and most of his 
material derives from Diana Price's extensive "Reconsidering 
Shakespeare's Monument" (Review of English Studies, May 1997), which 
Holloway himself properly cited (after only one nudge).

I believe the monument has not been significantly altered. The first to 
suggest that it had been changed was a prominent biographer from a 
century ago, C C 'water back' Stopes. Her theory was initially based on 
Sir William Dugdale's 1656 _Antiquities_, where the graven image of 
Shakespeare's monument is so unlike the modern. Her cause was taken up 
most ably by Sir G G Greenwood. My extended interest in the controversy 
stems from the published accounts of these opposed controversialists who 
found themselves temporary allies. The alliance was forged from the same 
base metal: unwillingness to admit error.

In 1908 Greenwood asserted, "it seems absolutely certain that this 
Stratford bust . . . is in reality not the original bust at all; neither 
is the monument . . . the original monument." In 1925 Greenwood 
forgetfully said that "nobody, so far as I know, has ever contended that 
the whole monument has been altered, or that another has been erected in 
the place of the original. The question at issue is practically confined 
to the bust." This self-contradiction caught my attention. Incidentally, 
it mentions an oft-neglected differentiation: 'monument' refers to 
either the whole structure (including the bust) or to the structure 
enclosing the 'bust,' which is the effigy itself; the terms are not 
interchangeable.

Stopes had postulated a mid-18th century date for the alterations, but 
Greenwood acknowledged that Spielmann's 1924 reproduction of Vertue's 
1723 engraving shows "the architectural proportions, the mantling, the 
seated cherubs, the brackets . . . and, above all, 'the figure with its 
hands ready to write upon a cushion,' just as today." Sir George saw 
that the close resemblance between the modern monument and Vertue's 
architecture precluded an argument from his own pen that a new structure 
replaced that depicted 1656. So he quoted Stopes's opinion of Vertue: "a 
purely imaginary version."

Greenwood then offers that if "this explanation is to be accepted, we 
must assume that those who repaired and altered the monument in 1748-49 
took their inspiration, to some extent at least, from the bust as 
depicted by Vertue." After denying any monument alteration, Greenwood 
uses Stopes to suggest otherwise; then he applied her argument only to 
the bust. But the pictured structures differ in ways that must be 
reconciled.

Mrs. Stopes was also the first in print with report of the original 1634 
Dugdale sketch. Before discussing that, another distinction must be 
reiterated, and not for the last time. The sketch, as reported, is the 
basis for the 1656 engraving. Whatever may be determined of the 
evidentiary value of the sketch, none of the derivative engravings have 
value as evidence. Thus Basch's reference to "these versions" risks the 
suggestion of a cumulative force that simply does not exist.  If one 
inclines to argue that alteration occurred, one may also lean on the 
more attractive engravings as evidence and even treat 'sketch' and 
'engraving' as identical. They are not.

In 1918 Stopes reissued her monument article with additions, the last of 
which are two paragraphs on the sketch so vague as to be of little 
value. The preceding eight-page 'postscript' is more a muddled 
retraction than anything else: "They would mend the nose, plump out the 
hollow cheeks, and fill up the eyes." Mine are filling up just thinking 
about it. "They would probably scrape down the cushion to a more normal 
level." But the lines about the sketch that had meaning were these:

    And I was surprised to find that what had proved my own
    stumbling-block, the lines of the cloak, are drawn by Dugdale
    as they appear today, and the engraver must have carelessly
    altered the sartorial effect.

Stopes seems to be saying that the sketch of the bust resembles the 
modern one at least to some extent, and calls the engraver's inaccuracy 
her "stumbling-block," that is, the mistaken reason for her theory. The 
next to report on the sketch was Greenwood and he too tries not to 
over-commit. He remarks of the engraver:

    That either he, or Dugdale himself, was responsible for the faulty
    details of this engraving [is] self-evident. But this is not a question
    of details . . . . It was from [Dugdale's] drawing that the artist . . .
    prepared the engraving, which is an exact copy of the sketch
    except that it corrects it where it is somewhat out of drawing . . . .
    Yet [the sketch] presents us with a bust of Shakespeare which is
    absolutely unlike the effigy as it exist to-day

Recalling that Greenwood denied any substantial changes to the monument, 
his description of the engraving as "faulty in details" is simply 
misleading. There are many features of the engraving's structure that 
are "absolutely unlike" those of today's monument.  And what exactly is 
a "corrected exact copy"?

I discussed these remarks with a friend (Barbara Westerfield), who was 
motivated to inquire of the present Sir William Dugdale, who replied 
with a xerox copy of a photo of the sketch from the fifties that showed 
the engravings to be unlike the sketch.  Diana Price turned our 
discussions into a project culminating in the RES article, which put the 
history of the monument and its controversies in the new light of the 
old sketch. The article is very well done and I have always felt that it 
has settled the controversy. However, the effect of an article can be 
delayed longer than one might hope.

The only person I've talked to who has seen Dugdale's sketch-book 
on-site is myself. Having no experience clutching at straws, I won the 
job of photographing the sketch. I would do better next time, but came 
away with serviceable photos. Because none are as yet posted clearly on 
the Net I will describe their features as they bear on the 
controversies, and most will be able to see my points with the pictures 
that are available to them. Even though this issue is trivial I have 
spent time analyzing it with, I believe, minimal bias.  Almost everyone 
else has meant to argue, or to ignore the issue.  It sometimes suits 
purposes not to investigate. That is why an amateur has opportunity to 
answer questions that ought to have been settled long ago.

Sir William Dugdale's sketch-book and diaries should be examined for 
their own sake by specialists in other fields. However, their own 
understanding would include the knowledge that early engraving was an 
inexact art subject to latitude and lassitude unthinkable to the modern 
mind. There are probably no surprises in Dugdale's work. But claims are 
yet being made (within the wide borders of Shakespeare studies) that 
engravers independently retraced the steps of the antiquarian, and that 
he in turn held them to standards of reproduction that approach modern 
standards of evidence. Such is demonstrably not the case. I have 
compared photos of sketches with the 1656 edition that show a freedom to 
alteration existed in the minds of all involved that is commensurate 
with the changes made from sketch to engraving in the monument. In other 
words, the engravings are not evidence.

William Dugdale has been appealed to for the sake of argument as a 
careful, talented artist, or as a careless, unaccomplished one.  The 
reality is that he was capable if he wanted to be and I suggest from a 
very limited observation that his care was reflected in the space he 
devoted to the individual subject matter. The smaller the figure, the 
more casual and generic the sketch. Shakespeare's monument is on the 
smaller side. The features of the monument and bust were penciled in and 
inked over later, without much care to follow the pencil tracings. This 
seems not always to have been the practice. Sir William no doubt had his 
priorities and some of his drawings either closely follow the pencil or 
were (apparently) done in ink on site. I could be wrong, but I wouldn't 
bother the usufructuaries to find out. Certainly I would not denigrate 
the work of a pioneer antiquarian beyond the errors that may befall anyone.

The artist made several mistakes early, causing later distortions. 
First, the monument is too wide. The inside dimensions from side to side 
and to the top of the arch are about 1/1. The modern ratio is 3/4. Next 
he began the head too low, then drew it too small.  The arms were drawn 
with elbows akimbo, but not with forearms resting. This seems to have 
resulted in part from reducing the thickness of the first-draft arms, 
especially the left, to conform to the small head. This also may account 
for the narrow torso, which, as Stopes noted, seems to be patterned 
after the modern doublet, with fewer buttons. The result is less like 
the modern bust filling its space than a lone rider standing in a 
tilt-a-whirl.

These features must be errors, no matter how the bust looked.  The 
engraver tried to correct the proportioning and to fill up the space. He 
also took the 'cushion' for a sack. But again, there is no point arguing 
the sack from the engraving. The issues always revert to the sketch. Up 
to the cushion we have every reason to presume the sketch is a bad 
drawing of the modern monument.

If one were to argue sketch accuracy for the monument as a whole, as I 
noted earlier, replacement of the whole is forced. There seems not to be 
extant evidence for that. The putti are moveable and the originals have 
not survived. The pen was also vulnerable, especially (as I recall) a 
finger and thumb had broken off. So if we assume the monument preserves 
today the features recorded imperfectly in 1634, the presumption is that 
it also attempted to depict the same bust.  Despite the errors I've 
described, the sketch retains an identity with the modern bust. This is 
especially true of the cushion, which shares common features with a 
sack. The arguable difference is that in the sketch the cushion is not 
flat, but turned up, as if Shakespeare was meeting the husband she 
wasn't supposed to have.

My guess is that Dugdale's intention was both to remove ambiguity by 
showing the four tassels of a cushion (a bad idea) and to hide his 
errors of proportion by raising the cushion above the belt-line. If so, 
the decision was made on-site because the upper tassels are drawn first 
in pencil. If the presumption had not been established that other 
features of the sketch identify it as the modern effigy, this rationale 
could be seen as special pleading. The strength of the presumption, 
however, demands a cushion; whereas the weakness of the case for 
alteration demands a sack. If, for example, the modern monument had no 
cushion, the matter would be very different. The absence of the sculpted 
paper I treat similarly. Without the pen, its significance may not have 
registered with Dugdale, whose concern for detail in the sketch is variable.

I have a photo of a sketch of a man and wife whose heads are about the 
same size as in Shakespeare's sketch, where the husband's mustache is 
very clearly and minutely depicted. His wife has two dots for a nose and 
a mouth the same as Shakespeare's frown. Little is to be inferred from 
such variance. Or was that the same husband?

    Did I visit Susie Pringle? Yes, Sir.
    Did she tell me she was single? Yes, Sir.
    When a man came in the flat,
    And he hollered, "Who is that?"
    Did I leave without my hat? Yes, Sir!

Inevitably, an alteration hypothesis involves the suspected ringleader 
Joseph Greene, who was instrumental to the repair of the monument in 
1748-49. Levi Fox published Greene's letters, which show that the events 
were memorable to him. Not one person in one hundred will agree that 
Greene seems at all untruthful or that the refurbishment was anything 
other than as he describes. Two notes are particularly convincing to me. 
First, when the long-awaited repairs were about to be made, the 
appointed escrow man (17 pounds) refused to sign a promise that he would 
pay the craftsman on completion of the work.  His reason was that his 
word was sufficient. Didn't work then either, but can we suppose this 
guy was in on a fraud?

The other was from a letter to James West in 1658 on the prospect of 
sculptor John Rysbrack's creation of a bust of Shakespeare:

    If Mr Rysbrack carves your Shakespeare from the mask you had
    of me, I am very sure it answers to our original Bust: for Heath the
    Carver & I took it down from the Chancel wall, & laid it exactly in
    a horizontal posture before we made the Cast, which we executed
    with much care, so that no slipping of the Materials could occasion
    the unnatural distance in the face which he mentions.

I believe Greene was determined to maintain the worth of the cast made a 
month before the repairs. I think the sculptor was not referring to an 
accident to wet plaster, but to the extended space between the bottom of 
the bust's nose and the top of its upper lip.  A sculptor would quickly 
notice the flaw and not want to repeat it. Greene's part in the exchange 
seems quite honest.

A final word or two. Because the sketch cannot support a theory of 
alteration, I had expected the issue to subside to everyone's agreement, 
if not their satisfaction. Yet bad argument continues.  The reason is 
that persons over-commit, just as did Charlotte Stopes and Sir G G 
Greenwood, but they will not yield. The added reason is that a striking 
visual effect, the 1656 engraving, has itself been altered from evidence 
of the way it was, to evidence of the way engravers were. It is a lesson 
for us not to cling to mistakes as if they weren't.

Gerald E. Downs

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.