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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: June ::
New Portrait of Shakespeare?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0280  Sunday, 31 May 2009

[1] From:   Sid Lubow <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 27 May 2009 16:47:34 EDT
     Subj:   New portrait of Shakespeare?

[2] From:   Elliott Stone <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 27 May 2009 21:50:55 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0270 New Portrait of Shakespeare?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Sid Lubow <
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Date:       Wednesday, 27 May 2009 16:47:34 EDT
Subject:    New portrait of Shakespeare?

In response to the post of Stanley Wells et al who wrote"

 >Duncan-Jones waves away our suggestion that the Cobbe portrait was the
 >basis for Droeshout's 1623 engraving, where the sitter is only slightly
 >less richly dressed. Certainly Droeshout (aged twenty-two) appears to
 >have simplified the image, updated the collar, and given Shakespeare
 >less hair, possibly reflecting his later appearance. He was keen enough
 >to catch the cast in Shakespeare's left eye, not present in the Overbury
 >portrait. But engravers commonly simplified and updated; the Droeshout
 >was copied for Benson's 1640 Poems with equally drastic changes.
 >Compositionally the 1623 engraving and the Cobbe portrait match perfectly.
 >
 >Duncan-Jones ignores most of the recently unearthed evidence on this
 >fascinating portrait. Her recycling of flawed twentieth-century
 >arguments does nothing to diminish our case, based on much earlier
 >evidence, that the portrait represents Shakespeare.
 >
 >Mark Broch, Paul Edmondson, Stanley Wells"

In response, briefly, if Droeshout had copied the pose of the Cobbe 
portrait, facing right, and engraved his plate as he saw the pose, the 
First Folio Shakespeare, when printed, would have faced left. If not, 
then he had to have used a mirror to flop the Cobbe and then copy it as 
he looked in the mirror. The same problem applies to the Chandos, which 
shows the 'sitter' in the same pose as the Droeshout.  But the pose of 
the engraving of Sir Thomas Overbury, 1616, by Renold Elstrake, faces 
left, which along with others, I maintain was copied from the Cobbe 
portrait of Overbury. Therefore, it was reversed in printing. Voila! 
Strangely, why is it that almost all the supposed 'portraits' of 
Shakespeare face the same direction as the Droeshout?  Such paintings of 
engravings can easily be 'matched', but it is not so easy for engravers 
who wish to duplicate a pose.

P.S. Benson's 1640 Poems copied the Droeshout. It reversed itself when 
printed, which is the point. If Droeshout copied any portrait, we should 
look for one facing the opposite direction.

Sid Lubow

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Elliott Stone <
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Date:       Wednesday, 27 May 2009 21:50:55 -0400
Subject: 20.0270 New Portrait of Shakespeare?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0270 New Portrait of Shakespeare?

It would appear that Sam Schoenbaum delved into the "authenticated 
likenesses" of William Shakespeare at length in two places in his book 
"Shakespeare's Lives". He tells us about the Chandos, the Felton, the 
Janssen and others that had their claimants early in the 19th Century 
and a whole host of other works that have surfaced more recently.

I believe he got it exactly right on p. 202. "These pictures have always 
intrigued Shakespeare lovers, avid for a veritable image flattering to 
their own preconceptions".

This is, of course, exactly why the "New Portrait of Shakespeare" has 
proven so popular at Stratford on Avon. The painting is of the "New" 
William Shakespeare as he now appears in the recent BBC documentary, in 
"Shakespeare In Love", and in Professor Greenblatt's incredibly 
successful biography.

In all of these "New" portrayals Shakespeare does not simply have 
Southampton as his patron but rather is seen as his peer!

Best,
Elliott H. Stone

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