Tuesday, March 24, 2009

About that new Shakespeare Portrait

The Cobbe Portrait from 2 weeks ago, said to be that of Shakespeare.

Well the truth is out at last.

The Jacobean painting from the family collection of art restorer Alec Cobbe was thought to be the bard because it closely resembled the engraving in Shakespeare's First Folio. It is also noticeably similar to another painting believed to be the playwright owned by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.

Dr Tanya Cooper, the sixteenth-century curator at the National Portrait Gallery in London, believes the portrait bears a greater likeness to Sir Thomas Ovebury. She told The Times: “if anything, both works, the Folger and Cobbe portraits, are more likely to represent the courtier Sir Thomas Overbury".

This means the Folger library in Washington DC has been deliberately committing a fraud for a number of years, by showing a picture claiming it to be Shakespeare. BUT they could not be bothered to pay a little money for an airfare and actually go visit the National Gallery in UK and see for themselves that their portrait is a fraud.

This portrait of Sir Thomas Overbury is in the National Gallery of England.

The Cobbe family claimed their picture to be Shakespeare because it was the same as the picture in the Folger library. That is an error that an amateur art historian might make. BUT NOT for a professional library like the Folger.

Sir Thomas Overbury (1581 - September 15, 1613) was the son of Nicholas Overbury, of Bourton-on-the-Hill, and was born at Compton Scorpion, near Ilmington, in Warwickshire.

He was also an English poet and essayist, and the victim of one of the most sensational crimes in English history.

Just look at those dates. Overbury was born 16 years after Shakespeare and would have been aged 32 when he died. Remember how I remarked that the portrait did not look like a man of 46 years in that era? I was right.

And now experts believe the elaborate lace collar and gold embroided doublet are too grand for the playwright. Which is exactly what I said!!!!

According to the BBC, the Jansson Portrait of Shakespeare, which was painted in 1610, is also considered to be that of Sir Thomas Overbury, and not Shakespeare.

Painted around 1610, (the Jannson) work emerged as a compelling candidate as a life portrait of Shakespeare in the later 18th Century. Now, however, the sitter is believed to be the courtier and author Sir Thomas Overbury (1581-1613), while Cornelis Janssen (1593-1661) is no longer accepted as the artist.

How interesting that the Cobbe picture was also painted in 1610. Would Shakespeare have been able to afford to commission TWO portraits of himself in the same year? I seriously doubt it.

So, what does all this mean? Well I personally think this whole mess means that the Sanders portrait found in Canada is most likely still the only true likeness of William Shakespeare. Cobbe portrait on the left, Sanders portrait on the right. I must read the book.

1 comment:

J. Nichols said...

"This means the Folger library in Washington DC has been deliberately committing a fraud for a number of years, by showing a picture claiming it to be Shakespeare."

This is not true. The Folger purchased the portrait in the early 20th century because it had famously been associated with Shakespeare - not because they necessarily thought it was Shakespeare - and they have never claimed that it was an authentic portrait of Shakespeare. They have indeed been calling it 'probably Sir Thomas Overbury' since David Piper made that tentative identification in the 60's.