The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.217  Wednesday, 30 April 2014


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

Date:         April 30, 2014 at 9:24:19 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: Chandos Portrait


I have to say that I am deeply unconvinced by Katherine Duncan-Jones’s TLS piece. It exhibits the common failing of marshalling evidence in favour of a pre-existing thesis, rather than dispassionately considering all the evidence. She dates the portrait to 1610 simply because Joseph Taylor was born in 1586, and is thus too young to have painted the portrait any earlier! (If the portrait is indeed of Shakespeare—which I doubt—it would have to have been painted in 1600 or earlier, as it depicts a youngish man—Shakespeare was 36 in in 1600: he aged prematurely, and died at 52.) She glosses over (I think she fails to mention it) the point that Taylor only joined the King’s Men in 1619 on the death of Richard Burbage, and then took over the latter’s roles (which included Hamlet, obviously.) He had no previous connection with that acting company or with Shakespeare. The idea that Taylor would have previously acted the part of Hamlet for a rival company is best described as ludicrous. Shakespeare forfeited his share in the Globe when it burnt down; I don’t know if it is known for certain that he sold his share in the King’s Men at the same time. Either way, I don’t believe he held a share in the Blackfriars Theatre, so his (joint) purchase of a property at Blackfriars (before the Globe fire) would have been in connection with the King’s Men’s residency there. Any continuing theatrical associations would thus have been with the King’s Men. Joseph Taylor’s only associations with the Blackfriars Theatre would have been before 1608 with the Children of the Chapel Royal [Children of the Blackfriars], or after 1619 with the King’s Men.


John Briggs


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