Reader Hugh Pickens
sends in news from the NYTimes a few days back of what is believed to be a 400-year-old portrait of William Shakespeare
, painted 6 years before his death. No existing portrait, that most experts consider to be genuine, was captured during Shakespeare's lifetime. "It shows Shakespeare as a far more alluring figure than the solemn-faced, balding image that has been conveyed by previous engravings, busts and portraits. 'His face is open and alive, with a rosy, rather sweet expression, perhaps suggestive of modesty,' said a brochure for an exhibition opening in Stratford. The portrait came to light when Alec Cobbe visited the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2006 to see an exhibition, 'Searching for Shakespeare,' and realized that the Folger portrait, whose authenticity had been doubted for decades, was a copy of the one that had been in his family's art collection since the mid-18th century, with the family unaware that the man depicted might be Shakespeare. Scientific studies at Cambridge showed that the oak panel on which the Cobbe portrait was mounted came from trees felled in the last 20 years of the 16th century, pointing to a date for the painting in the early 1600s."
For balance, the New Yorker disputes some of the claims in the NYTimes account, and for good measure tosses in another purported Shakespeare portrait from life
, this one discovered 3 years ago in Canada.