The most famous images of Shakespeare
Which is the true portrait of
Shakespeare? Have a guess and then move your mouse over the paintings
to find out if you are right.
J Williamson investigates the true face of the Bard.
The Droeshout Engraving
This is the
image in the First Folio of Shakespeare's Plays published in 1623, seven
years after his death. When Shakespeare died Droeshout was only 15 and
probably never met the playwright. It is certain however that it was
used with the consent of friends and family and therefore must be a reasonable
true life image. It is not meant to be a true life portrait but was done
to the idiosyncratic style of the day which left many portraits looking
the same. Ben Johnson's advice in the verse opposite the engraving "since the graver had a strife with nature" one
should "look not on his picture, but his book".
Erected in the Chancel of the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon,
shortly after his death. Some think it was taken from his death mask
which may explain it's puffy dead appearance. But it's resemblance
to the inaccurate Droeshout image indicates one must have been taken
from the other.
Not Shakespeare but based on an actor of the same time that was
said to resemble Shakespeare who was still in living memory.
Produced to capitalise on the restoration and the reopening of the
the Puritan crackdown.
Although this image appears on several book covers there is no
evidence to connect it to Shakespeare. The unknown sitter was
24 when Shakespeare
was 24 but laws of the time specifically prohibited the wearing
of scarlet except by nobility. Put forward by those who want
Shakespeare for the elite.
The most famous of all images of Shakespeare. It is 100% fake
and owned by the RSC. It is a 19th Century colour copy of
using pigments not available until 1828. X-rays show it is
painted over a mid-16th Century portrait of the Madonna and
John the Baptist.
all scientific analysis and regarded as authentic within living memory
of the great playwright William Shakespeare. This is the true
likeness of William Shakespeare and has a detailed provence.
In the late 17th Century it was owned by the actor Thomas
leading Shakespearean actor of his day. He acted in one
theatres. Devenant was appointed "governor" of
the King and Queen's Company of Players, a successor of
Shakespeare's Company in
1639 only 23 years after Shakespeare's death. It is disliked
by some elitist critics for its working class appearance
and the same reason
they like the Grafton Portrait.