This is still not Shakespeare (ctd.)

April 23 2014

Image of This is still not Shakespeare (ctd.)

Picture: BG

It's Shakespeare's 450th birthday!* So cue national newspapers running photos of the wrong man. This time, however, the 'Cobbe portrait' is making fewer appearances than usual (though it creeps in here at The Guardian as 'believed to be the only authentic image of Shakespeare made during his life'). Instead we have both the Telegraph and the Independent, above, publishing a portrait, via Alamy images, from the Versailles Museum. The Versailles portrait shows a man aged 34 in a portrait of the early 1620s. Shakespeare died in 1616 at the age of 52. 

The continued use of incorrect but more flamboyant images is due, I presume, to our collective reluctanct to accept that the plain, humdrum man in the Chandos portrait shows the greatest writer of the English language. Even the Chandos portrait was fiddled with in later times to make it look more bohemian (such as the long hair).

PS - The last time I mentioned 'not Shakespeare' portraits, certain people got very cross with me. But fear not, AHN-ers I am undaunted. 

Update - the Cobbe portrait features in The Sun.

Update II - a reader writes:

Interesting you said there's been less of the Cobbe portrait this year. I wonder if it's because, unlikeness aside, it has no personality. Portrait of a hipster, as someone made it.

He makes me think of Osric:

'Thus has he - and many more of the same bevy that I 

know the dressy age dotes on - only got the tune of

the time and outward habit of encounter.'

The Chandos has beauty and real power. You can imagine him writing: 

'graves at my command

Have waked their sleepers, ope'd, and let em forth

By my so potent art.'

* Sort of. We don't know exactly when he was born. He was baptized on 26th April 1564.

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