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 17.0295  Friday, 7 April 2006

From: 		David Basch <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 05 Apr 2006 23:20:39 -0400
Subject: 17.0285 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0285 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine

Gerald Downs attempted to weave the many strands of "the Dugdale sketch 
controversy" into a meaningful whole that enables interested parties to 
come away with a plausible understanding of why there was a thought that 
the Shakespeare memorial bust of the poet was changed. In doing so, he 
came up with his conclusion that no such change occurred, as had Clark 
Holloway before him in his illustrated article.

But even after all this examination, there are some things that remain 
to be explained. The principle one of these is the Dugdale sketch itself 
which is a drawing with marked discrepencies between it and the monument 
of today. Forget about the engravings based on Dugdale. After all, as 
Gerald Downs has observed, those etchings were not evidence but second 
hand drawings based on Dugdale. I would note that in my posting on the 
subject, I did not regard those engravings as evidence of the original 
changed circumstance but only that others saw in the Dugdale sketch what 
I saw, namely, a character in the bust different from what we see today.

If we focus on Dugdale's sketch of the poet, we see the poet with his 
arms more extended atop the cushion like suface and with the palms of 
his hands facing down. The right hand extends even lower than the left, 
hardly a pose of his right hand grasping a quill. What is more, would 
Dugdale at the time he made his sketch not know from local persons that 
the figure in the bust was meant to be holding a quill, if that is what 
the figure was supposed to be doing? Yet Dugdale shows the poet's hands 
down on the cushion in the pose of someone cherishing the sack of grain 
that could signify his calling as grain dealer, merchant, and land owner.

It is hard to believe that Dugdale was so poor an artist that, even if 
he were not too talented, he would miss the basic gesture of the figure 
of the bust. It is also hard to believe that he would have missed a more 
rotund face and a mustache instead of a goute beard.

Hollowel shows in his article a detail picture of the Dugdale's version 
of an allegorical figure (looks like a Cupid) that sits high up on the 
right, with his feet dangling from the ledge formed by the architrave of 
the monument. (In fact the left allegorical figure sits the same way.) 
The Cupid figure holds something that looks like an hourglass. (There is 
a face near the figure that is well below the ledge, embedded as a 
decoration in the architrave that can be seen in the full Dugdale 
sketch). Yet, when we look at the Vertue engraving in the 1720's many 
things are different.

Now the Cupid figure's knees are drawn up with his legs, not dangling, 
but resting on the ledge. Instead of holding an hourglass, he now holds 
up high a brand (as Shakespeare's Cupid [Love] did in Sonnet 154) and 
now the face below the ledge sits on top of the ledge beside the Cupid 
and is a skull, a la Hamlet's Yorick. Vertue's depiction is close to 
that of the current monument, which also shows the figure well seated on 
the ledge and, incidentally, with knees drawn up real high (but the 
brand held low). No dangling legs are on any of the figures atop the 
ledge in Vertue or the current monument.

I think if one examines Dugdale directly, one can conclude that he drew 
a picture of what was before him that differed from what came later. The 
change may have been made by the the time Vertue did his engraving or, 
perhaps, it was Vertue that invented the version that serves as today's 
version.

Would I stake my life on this conclusion? Hardly. Neither should 
Hollowel or Downs do so for their versions. While Downs gives a credible 
scenario for his version of events, I believe that I also offer a 
credible version that connects my dots.

My version would suggest that there was an early monument that Dugdale's 
sketch describes, showing a suggestion of an inscription. It began, 
perhaps, "IVDICIO", but we learn that only much later is there an 
account of what it was in detail. Instead of the bust today, the old 
bust showed the poet gaunt, as a man honored as a leading citizen in 
Stratford, a rich and successful businessman. Only later did the poet 
reputation catch up to him in sleepy Stratford, with town authorities 
then thinking that something more appropriate ought to be presented. As 
I noted, Vertue may have made an engraving of what had already been 
substituted for the older version, or, perhaps, he invented his own 
version that served as a model for what later became the refurbished 
monument later in his century and today's.

Dugdale was not a great sketch artist but he seems to have gotten the 
big picture of the monument at his time. He could not have mindlessly 
made allegorical figures with legs dangling when this did not exist or 
extended arms on the bust that expressed pride in the grain sacks when 
that is not at all in the original. Dugdale must have seen this and more 
and we have his sketch to prove it. He is an eye witness to history. Let 
us carefully learn from it and not dismiss it.

David Basch

_______________________________________________________________
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.