The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0565  Thursday, 19 December 2013


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Thursday, December 19, 2013

Subject:    Sanders Portrait to Remain in Canada


This story is excerpted from the Toronto Globe and Mail:




Canadian family to buy portrait at centre of Shakespeare art mystery

James Adams

The Globe and Mail

Published Sunday, Dec. 15 2013, 11:05 PM EST


A tentative agreement has been reached for an unnamed Canadian family to buy the Sanders portrait, the famous 410-year-old painting that increasing evidence indicates is the only existing likeness of William Shakespeare done during the playwright’s lifetime.


[ . . . ]


Some details are still to be worked out and likely will not be announced until early in the new year. But the expectation is the new owners, who are pleading anonymity for the time being, will donate the portrait, brought to Canada from the U.K. at the end of the First World War, to a Canadian public art institution.

Its name is also still to be specified.


“It’s a great thing for Canada,” said Lloyd Sullivan, the retired Bell engineer from Ottawa who has owned the painting for more than 40 years.


[ . . . ]


Alastair Summerlee, president of the University of Guelph, was one of several sources to confirm the deal to The Globe and Mail.


He noted the new owners are “very keen to continue supporting demonstrating that the work really is a portrait of Shakespeare” painted in 1603, 13 years before his death, when the green-eyed, auburn-haired creator of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet was 39.


The U of G has long backed research into the work’s authenticity and, in fact, has held the portrait under lock and key for at least a year on behalf of Mr. Sullivan.

The university recently played host to a symposium in Toronto on the painting at which experts in genealogy, costumery, provenance, history and forensics attested to its authenticity.


[ . . . ]


The portrait – an oil on two joined oak panels named after its likely creator, John Sanders (1559-1643), Mr. Sullivan’s great grandfather 13 generations removed and a Shakespeare associate in London – was first brought to international attention by The Globe and Mail’s Stephanie Nolen in a front-page story in May, 2001.


Mr. Sullivan, who inherited the portrait in the early 1970s from his dying mother in Montreal, began to try to confirm its authenticity in the early 1990s and to date has spent more than $1-million in the effort.


[ . . . ]


“This painting, I’ve always been a believer in it,” said Mr. Loch, adding that the researches, particularly of the past six years, have given it the best provenance of all the portraits that have been touted as lifetime likenesses of the Bard.


These include the Chandos portrait, which has been championed in recent years by England’s National Portrait Gallery, home to the work since 1856, and the Cobbe portrait, since 2009 the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s candidate, albeit a highly controversial one, for most likely lifetime likeness.


Both institutions – the NPG is based in London, the Trust in the playwright’s home of Stratford-upon-Avon – have considerable clout and could dig in even in the face of the strong case for the Sanders.


Nevertheless, Mr. Loch stressed the importance of trying to bring the British onside.


[ . . . ]


Subscribe to Our Feeds


Make a Gift to SHAKSPER

Consider making a gift to support SHAKSPER.