10 March 2009

Is this the face....

After starting on a new bunch of literary posts, a news item comes in: A new portrait of Shakespeare has been found! Here it is:

Of course, there is no way of knowing for certain that this is the Bard, but the people presenting it seem to be pretty sure. One "expert" is quoted as saying he is 90% certain this is Shakespeare. The main reason for the attribution is the similarities between this portrait and the frontispiece of the First Folio:

Which also bears a stunning resemblance to this portrait, and this one, and so on. Every few years someone finds a new painting of the Bard, based on the idea that it looks like this picture. Are any of them the Bard?

Tough question. There is no definitive test to prove 100% that any portrait is his, but people want the pictures to be of him. They want to have a perfect image of the man. What did he look like, this giant among us? Did his genius show from his face?

Then again, there is also the issue of money. This new portrait, of someone or other from the period and painted by no one in particular, would be worth several thousand pounds. But if it is a picture of Shakespeare, it is worth several million and more. While it is impossible to say for certain who this is, a reasonable attribution, of, say an expert who is 90% sure, would drive the value of this piece sky high, both for the owner, and the museum which displays it, for thousands will now come to get a good look at this picture.

I have only one teeny tiny question: there is a small, little known fact mentioned by a few of his contemporaries who knew him personally: Shakespeare was a red-head.

What colour is the hair of this new portrait, again?

I think I have 100% certainty now.

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