Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: March ::
New Portrait of Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0122  Thursday, 19 March 2009

[1]  From:     Louis W. Thompson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
      Date:     Friday, 13 Mar 2009 13:52:56 -0700
      Subj:     Re: SHK 20.0115 New Portrait of Shakespeare

[2]  From:     Stefanie Peters <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
      Date      Friday, 13 Mar 2009 23:38:44 +0000
      Subj:     Re: SHK 20.0115 New Portrait of Shakespeare

[3]  From:     Thomas Hunter <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
      Date      Saturday, 14 Mar 2009 15:35:11 EDT
      Subj:     Re: SHK 20.0115 New Portrait of Shakespeare

[4]  From:     MacDonald Jackson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
      Date      Tuesday, 17 Mar 2009 18:49:50 +1300
      Subj:     Cobbe Portrait


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:        Louis W. Thompson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:        Friday, 13 Mar 2009 13:52:56 -0700
Subject: 20.0115 New Portrait of Shakespeare
Comment:     Re: SHK 20.0115 New Portrait of Shakespeare

Is it really possible to date a portrait to the precise year it was painted?

We need to see a report by the scientists who tested the Cobbe portrait. 
How did they come up with the date 1610? Tell us why it couldn't have 
been 1608. Or 1602.

Then, let us hear a discussion - by other scientists - of the methods 
used...and how the results were interpreted.

Louis W. Thompson

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:        Stefanie Peters <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:        Friday, 13 Mar 2009 23:38:44 +0000
Subject: 20.0115 New Portrait of Shakespeare
Comment:     Re: SHK 20.0115 New Portrait of Shakespeare

iTunes U put up today a free 20 minute video of an interview with 
Stanley Wells by a student at the University of Warwick in which he 
describes the portrait and justifies his belief in its authenticity. He 
also discusses the theory that the Droeshout engraving was a copy of a 
copy of the Cobbe portrait. I assume that the painting he believes was 
in-between was the Janssen, painted over to make the sitter look balder.

I'm willing to be convinced by the scientific tests Welles and Cobbe say 
they performed. If tree-ring-dating, X-rays and infrared reflectography 
all point to the authenticity of the portrait, and there's a connection 
from the Cobbe family to the Earl of Southampton that provides a likely 
provenance, it seems unlikely that anything will disprove that it is an 
authentic portrait of Shakespeare. As Professor Wells says in the 
interview, the only thing that is missing to clinch the case is a 
document recording payment for the commission, for example.

My favorite painting before this was always the Chandos portrait -- not 
because I thought it was the most authentic (I never put much faith in 
it as likely to look much like Shakespeare) -- but because it seemed 
like someone's imaginative portrayal of their idea of the Bard. The 
earring, the open collar: a uniform of an artist. At the very least, 
this new painting gives us a new example of someone's Shakespeare, and 
what a beautiful idea of Shakespeare it is. I confess, I just like it: 
the sly smile, the animated, handsome, intelligent face, the wide 
forehead, the beard, and how about those eyes?

If you have iTunes, this link should start the download:

http://deimos3.apple.com/WebObjects/Core.woa/Browse/warwick.ac.uk.1977441892.01977441897?sr=hotnews

Stefanie C Peters
www.stefaniepeters.com

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:        Thomas Hunter <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:        Saturday, 14 Mar 2009 15:35:11 EDT
Subject: 20.0115 New Portrait of Shakespeare
Comment:     Re: SHK 20.0115 New Portrait of Shakespeare

Bruce Young <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 > writes,

 >...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....
 >
 >Bruce Young

I'm sorry, I must have missed class that day. Please advise how we know 
that those who knew Shakespeare accepted the Droeshout perhaps along 
with the bust in Holy Trinity Church as resembling him.
Where do I find that evidence documented? Thank you for your assistance.

Thomas Hunter, Ph.D.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:        MacDonald Jackson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:        Tuesday, 17 Mar 2009 18:49:50 +1300
Subject:     Cobbe Portrait

Cobbe Portrait

If the Folger is correct in identifying the subject of the Janssen 
portrait as Sir Thomas Overbury, and if the Cobbe portrait is the 
from-life original of which the Janssen portrait is a copy, then 
logically it follows that the Cobbe portrait is of Sir Thomas Overbury.

The man in the Cobbe portrait looks about 30, and Overbury was born in 
1581. So if the dating of the portrait by the technical analysts as 
'about 1610' is right, the apparent age of the sitter fits Overbury. In 
1610 Shakespeare, born 1564, can hardly have looked so young.

The National Portrait Gallery has a watercolour of Overbury, 'by 
Sylvester Harding, after Marcus Gheerhaerts', that bears a distinct 
resemblance to the Cobbe portrait, as does the National Portrait 
Gallery's line engraving of Overbury by 'Simon De Passe, after Cornelius 
Johnson'. Overbury wears a lace collar very like that worn in the 
Janssen portrait. (Google Images finds these portraits.)

Of course, when you start looking for resemblances among early modern 
portraits, before long almost anybody can begin to look a bit like 
almost anybody else. When I first saw a reproduction of the Cobbe 
portrait, I was immediately reminded of the portrait of Sir Walter 
Ralegh on the cover of my copy of the Penguin Classics edition of his 
Selected Writings (ed. Gerald Hammond, 1986) -- this was before reading 
that the Cobbe family had previously thought their portrait was of 
Ralegh and that his name is inscribed in ink on the back of it. But in 
1610, Ralegh, born 1554, was ten years older even than Shakespeare.

There has been a good deal of discussion of the  Latin motto 'Principum 
amicitias!' that appears at the top of the Cobbe portrait. It would be 
apt to either Overbury (poisoned in the Tower in 1613) or Ralegh 
(beheaded in 1618). As has been noted, the phrase comes from Horace's 
Ode, II.1 and means 'the friendships of princes', where 'princes' could 
cover leaders, governors, chieftains, statesmen of various kinds. Since 
the _principium amicitias_ are said by Horace to be _graves_ or 
'pernicious', the exclamation mark on the portrait probably signals an 
ironic recognition that such friendships are dangerous, so that 'Beware 
the friendships of  governors' is a reasonable interpretation.

Horace's ode is addressed to C. Asinius Pollio, a supporter of Julius 
Caesar, patron and friend of Horace and Vergil, tragic poet, and 
historian. My ancient University Tutorial Series edition of Horace's 
Odes, ed. A. H. Allcroft and B. J. Hayes (London: W.B. Olive, undated) 
gives the following precis of 2.1: 'You are writing the history of the 
Civil Wars, Pollio?a dangerous task indeed. Lay aside your tragedies 
awhile, great lawyer, great statesman, great general. Methinks I hear 
the sounds and see the sights of battle even now; methinks I watch the 
conquest of the world?all the world save Cato; his death was an offering 
to Jugurtha. The stain of our blood has defiled all the world. But, my 
Muse, let us sing a lighter song.' However, I doubt that the details of 
Horace's ode are relevant to the portrait. Samuel Johnson quoted 
_principium amicitias_ simply as a text supporting his claim that 'Of 
confederacy with superiours, every one knows the inconvenience' 
(_Boswell's Life of Johnson_ (London: Oxford University Press, 1953), 
148). And a sardonic comment on the fragility of favour with the great 
is all that need be implied here.

If the motto was written when the original portrait was painted, it must 
surely emanate from the sitter, not be addressed to him by the painter 
or anybody else. The poet of 'The Lie', Ralegh, who had been in and out 
of royal favour and was imprisoned in the Tower from 1603 to 1616, might 
well have subscribed to the motto. So might Overbury by April 1613, when 
James had sent him to the Tower.

Of course, properly to assess the strength of the evidence that the 
Cobbe portrait is really of Shakespeare we must wait until that evidence 
has been presented in full.

MacDonald Jackson

_______________________________________________________________
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.