This is not Shakespeare (ctd.)

May 20 2016

Video: Harvey Nichols

A reader alerts me to the above video from the fashion store Harvey Nichols. It uses the Cobbe Portrait (which, in my opinion, does not show Shakespeare) to make a point about fashion and brains. 'Great men deserve great style' is the message, and certainly the nattily dressed sitter looks very stylish with his gold embroidered waistcoat. 

It's more evidence of the way we, today, use whichever historical portrait we like to suit the message we mant to convey, irrespective of historical accuracy. I'm not trying to huff or puff about it, just making an observation. Harvey Nichols would hardly be able to use the Chandos portrait (above, which does show Shakespeare) to make their video. Shakespeare looks plain and portly, and is dressed like a Tudor accountant. In reality, one could deduce, great men don't necessarily dress in great style.

The theory works in the other direction. On the BBC at the moment there's a new comedy about Shakespeare called 'Upstart Crow', written by Ben Elton and starring David Mitchell (above). Mitchell is one of the funniest Brits alive, but he's no looker. His portrayal of Shakespeare for laughs (with gags about receding hairlines) only works because it is based on the Chandos image of Shakespeare. 

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