The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0484 Monday, 22 May 2006
Date: Friday, 19 May 2006 23:36:50 -0700
Subject: Chandos vs. Sanders: Canadians think they know the winner
of the portrait contest
Controversy continues to rage over Cdn-owned Shakespeare portrait
Canadian Press, Friday, May 19, 2006
TORONTO (CP) - A Canadian-owned portrait of William Shakespeare is at the
heart of a transatlantic debate over who can lay claim to the only
authentic sketch of the Bard.
The so-called Sanders Portrait, which will be the centrepiece of a
southwestern Ontario Shakespeare festival to be held next year, is going
head-to-head until the end of the month with five other "contender"
portraits in London's National Portrait Gallery.
Four of those portraits have been discounted as fakes.
But the gallery is standing behind the so-called Chandos portrait, the
first painting presented to the facility in 1856.
The Sanders Portrait, believed to have been sketched in 1603 by a friend
of a then 39-year-old Shakespeare, is the property of Ottawa resident
Lloyd Sullivan, 73, who says his heritage can be traced back to the
portrait-painter John Sanders.
The retired engineer has put his portrait through tree-ring dating of the
wood it was sketched on, radiographic testing of the canvas and
radiocarbon testing of the paper label on the back of the painting. He
also tracked his genealogy back to 1607, which he says makes it almost
certain that his painting is authentic.
All that's left is to trace his heritage into the 1500s and to date the
ink of the painting. But Sullivan was told to wait for the technology to
improve so a smaller sample of the painting could be used.
"If the ink dates back to that time, it proves that my ancestor knew when
Shakespeare was born, knew when he died," Sullivan said.
The national gallery's website, in promoting its "Searching for
Shakespeare" event, lumps the Sanders portrait in with four other
portraits which it says are "purporting to represent Shakespeare."
Of the Chandos, it says, "the identity of this picture is still considered
unproven and today we have no certain lifetime portrait of England's most
famous poet and playwright."
Daniel Fischlin, a University of Guelph professor and the leader of an
ongoing study on all adaptations of Shakespeare's works, said the
"business of Shakespeare" plays a large role in this battle of the Bards.
"The licensing fees around who owns the authentic image is critical," he
said. "There's tremendous national self-interest as well.
"Who owns the most authentic portrait? It's got to be England, you know?"
Details of the "Shakespeare - Made in Canada" festival - to be held in
Guelph, Ont., in January 2007 - will be released Wednesday.
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