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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: March ::
New Portrait of Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0115  Friday, 13 March 2009

[1]  From:   Bruce Young <
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      Date:   Monday, 9 Mar 2009 13:45:22 -0600
      Subj:   RE: SHK 20.0104 New Portrait of Shakespeare

[2]  From:   Carl Fortunato <
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      Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 2009 22:15:08 -0400
      Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0104 New Portrait of Shakespeare

[3]  From:    Hardy M. Cook <
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      Date:    Friday, March 13, 2009
      Subj:    Re: SHK 20.0104 New Portrait of Shakespeare

[4]  From:   Jeff Rufo <
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      Date:   Thursday, 12 Mar 2009 14:50:05 -0500 (CDT)
      Subj:   Cobbe portrait history (a query)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:      Bruce Young <
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Date:      Monday, 9 Mar 2009 13:45:22 -0600
Subject: 20.0104 New Portrait of Shakespeare
Comment:   RE: SHK 20.0104 New Portrait of Shakespeare

I am eager to learn what Stanley Wells and Alec Cobbe have to tell us, 
but I want to put in my two cents' worth in anticipation. Three years 
ago, the portrait issue was widely discussed. Dr. Tarnya Cooper, a 
curator at the National Portrait Gallery, said at that time that the 
claim of the Chandos portrait to authenticity, though not "watertight," 
was the best among the contenders--apart perhaps from the Droeshout 
engraving in the first folio. (See 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/mar/02/arts.books and 
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5242000 )

For various reasons, the Sanders, Grafton, Souest, Flower, and Janssen 
portraits were discounted--the Janssen portrait because it had "been 
painted over to make the sitter look balder, and more 'Shakespearean'" 
and "had also been given a fake inscription." The recent discovery--what 
we're calling the "Cobbe portrait"--probably has a better claim than the 
Janssen, but to my eye, it still doesn't look much like the man 
portrayed in the Droeshout engraving, the one depiction (perhaps along 
with the bust in Holy Trinity Church) we know to have been accepted as 
resembling Shakespeare by those who knew him.

Though I'm not at all an expert on such matters, of all the contenders, 
the Chandos portrait looks to me the most like the Droeshout engraving.

Bruce Young

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:      Carl Fortunato <
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Date:      Tuesday, 10 Mar 2009 22:15:08 -0400
Subject: 20.0104 New Portrait of Shakespeare
Comment:   Re: SHK 20.0104 New Portrait of Shakespeare

Am I crazy? I keep reading claims that the Droeshout might have been 
taken from this, and to me they look NOTHING alike - not in so much as a 
single feature. And why would Droeshout decide to make him bald? And 
remove the beard?

In fact, the "authentic" pictures - Droeshout, Chandos, and the 
Stratford Monument - all show someone with considerably less hair. Isn't 
that odd if the Cobbe is authentic? What is the actual evidence for its 
authenticity?

Carl Fortunato

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:       Friday, March 13, 2009
Subject: 20.0104 New Portrait of Shakespeare
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0104 New Portrait of Shakespeare

I can understand the reluctance of many to embrace the Cobbe Portrait as 
genuine, painted in Shakespeare's lifetime. Within the past ten years, 
there have been the announcement of the Sanders Family Portrait and 
Tarnya Cooper's pronouncement of the authenticity of the Chandos Portrait.

When I looked that a picture of the portrait the was taken from an 
extreme low angle

http://www.abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=7039535&page=1

I could see more clearly the features resembling those of the Droeshout 
and the Holy Trinity Monument. The low angle flatten out the features, 
aging as it were the image.

A few days ago, I was talking with my older daughter, who happens to 
have been born on Friday the thirteenth twenty-eight years ago, Melissa 
Lauren Ralph, I mentioned the apparently absence of balding on the Cobbe 
portrait. She responded by quoting Peter Quince from Midsummer Night's 
Dream (Gee, didn't I do a good job raising her and her sister):

"Some of your French crowns have no hair at all"

And then she said doesn't this refer to how syphilis could be a cause of 
balding. She insisted that she was not claiming that Shakespeare had a 
venereal disease, only that there could be many reasons for someone's 
rapid loss of hair in the six years between when the painting is claimed 
to have been undertaken and Shakespeare's death.

Since many of the portraits that have been at one time or another 
attributed to being Shakespeare, I thought that I might make available 
for a limited time a copy of my PowerPoint presentation on Shakespeare's 
Life, a presentation in which I attempted to include as many portraits 
of Shakespeare as I could. I need to say up front that this PowerPoint 
is one of the many that I used in teaching and that I put it together 
exclusively to pedagogical uses. Thus it contains images that found from 
a variety of sources, some of which were copyrighted. Because I was 
using them then and making this available now for instructional and 
illustrative purposes, I considered that any of the materials that were 
copyrighted were being used under the "Fair use" provisions of the 
copyright law.

My presentation can be viewed at http://www.shaksper.net/~hcook/Life.ppt

I have several more of these, PowerPoint presentations, presentations 
that I have been developing and polishing for countless years as part of 
my teaching. Other presentations deal with the transmission of the text, 
with the theater, with the dominant ideology, and so forth. I 
constructed one from images of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs and 
historical persons associated with their reigns that were in a book I 
donated to the Folger Shakespeare Library for a substantial tax 
deduction after I paid a consultant to provide me with an estimate of 
its worth. If anyone would like, you can see it at 
http://www.shaksper.net/~hcook/Chronology.ppt

A warning to those who wish to view these, the first contains more than 
240 slides of high quality images, so depending on the speed of your 
Internet connect, it may take several minutes to download. Just be 
patient. You will be presented with a prompt or two asking you to open 
the file, then you will need to wait again. Be sure not to touch the esc 
key. When the file opens in PowerPoint, hit the Slide Show icon and 
press the space bar or arrow keys --> to move forward and <-- to move 
backward through the presentation. If you would like to view others, 
contact me at 
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 .

I spend untold hours developing these and I genuinely hope that after I 
officially retire I might be able to teach Shakespeare by the course at 
some of the colleges and universities in the 
Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia area and use these again.

Hardy Cook
Editor of SHAKSPER

PS: Another reason I mounted these files on the SHAKSPER fileserver was 
to be able to show them to my dissertation advisor Sandy Mack, whom I 
have not until recently kept up with much in the past thirty years.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:      Jeff Rufo <
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Date:      Thursday, 12 Mar 2009 14:50:05 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:   Cobbe portrait history (a query)

Hello all,

I'm curious to learn more about the Cobbe and Southampton connection 
through the Nortons. The following passage, from an article in The Times 
(July 10 2006), is all I have at the moment on this topic:

"The Cobbe pictures were brought to Ireland from Hampshire in 1717 by 
Charles Cobbe, later Archbishop of Dublin, and almost exclusively came 
from his Norton inheritance. His father and uncles had been heirs to the 
childless Nortons, one of whom, Lady Elizabeth Norton, was the 3rd Earl 
of Southampton's great-granddaughter."

Do we know why the Norton inheritance fall to Charles Cobbe's father? 
And what do we know about Lady Elizabeth Norton?

I'm fascinated by this whole story and am looking forward to a spirited 
debate about the "authenticity" of the Cobbe portrait, whether or not we 
believe that this is, at last, "the real Shakespeare"! Perhaps this is 
simply "a new Shakespeare" for us all to consider?...He's certainly been 
on my mind the past few days.  -Jeff Rufo

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