Is This William Shakespeare © 2013
Portrait above The Wadlow's Televison
They are Not ten a Penny, oh, Perhaps we had better look into this then !
Cobbe Portrait as seen on Time Team by Mr Mrs Wadlow
Once it was suggested that our portrait looked like Shakespeare I started looking at the known portraits of him, making comparisons & decided, although the poorly painted Coat of Arms on our portrait were clearly not Shakespeare's ,that I should still seek further opinions. (Just as well I did, as it turned out that the visible Coat of Arms on the portrait are non existent & a later addition!)
Firstly, I had to ascertain as to whether the Portrait was genuine to the period of Shakespeare’s lifetime. I have been fortunate, experts such as Sir Roy Strong, Philip Mould (Fake or Fortune), Dr Martin Kemp, Karen Hearn, Angus Neill, Rupert Featherstone (Hamilton Kerr Institute), Shakespeare Birth Place Trust, National Portrait Gallery & others have all been generous with their time, some of these experts viewed the Portrait ‘in the flesh’ and some viewed the high resolution images. All agreed that the portrait, is a ‘fine’ portrait, in very good condition, & more importantly was painted in the period of Shakespeare. The consensus is 1595-1610. One said 1595, one said later part of 1590's, others said 1600-1610. When some of these experts and others were asked if they thought it may be Shakespeare, these were some of the comments;
"I understand you are working on a hypothesis of Shakespeare: that's certainly not an area with which I would want any involvement; too many academic ships wrecked on that shore! ". This is not a quote from any of the experts mentioned above.
"I do not think it is Shakespeare; it does not look like the Chandos or The Droeshout"
“We do not think it is Shakespeare as your portrait does not look like 'our' Chandos but appears to be of the same period”
"It is not a copy of the Cobbe"
The owner of a well known contender Portrait of Shakespeare (Not The Cobbe) went so far as saying "Ours is the only true Image of Shakespeare, why would the world need another" They went on to bombard me with reasons as to why I should not investigate further!
Regarding the last quote, of course they may be correct, but I felt it rather odd that they should try so hard to persuade me to stop researching, surely they would understand why we would want to investigate who the sitter in our portrait is, whoever it is. A better & less suspicious response would have been to suggest that they didn't feel it could be Shakespeare (even if they did), but good luck with your research in finding out who it may be.
Truth be told, the response from that particular owner encouraged me further, reading between the lines (of which there were many) I suspect they were rather concerned that they had competition!
Shakespeare historians have been consulted, one agreed that the facial similarities did in fact suggest that our portrait could be Shakespeare. Others agreed there is a likeness. None, with the exception of Simon Stirling would commit or look to assist further, back to those Ship Wrecks I suspect.
The portrait has been subjected to technical research including X-Ray at Hamilton Kerr Institute & also a trip to Lumiere Technologies in Paris, these uncovered some interesting detail. Please see ‘Technical’ page.
Those that have expressed, that it is not Shakespeare, have not given reason as to why they believe it is not, apart from one stating it did not look like The Droeshout or Chandos, however we have, made comparisons with the Droeshout and Chandos and the argument that it is not similar enough, is clearly debatable. On our home page there is a video merger with the Droeshout.
We aim to publicise the portrait as widely as possible in the hope that it can be seriously researched by an institute or respected scholar. Hence our coverage on social media and this website.
We are at an impasse, media fear reporting without the backing of a well-placed scholar, (although there has been a University peer reviewed paper written about it), such scholars will not risk credibility in this risky area (as per quote above re 'ship wrecks') without the backing from an institute, the institutes are hesitant without a scholar being on board! It is, I believe very much a case of ‘too good to be true’. But it would be a terrible shame if we are correct, for the portrait not to be fully researched and proven one way or the other. (Unlike the other images, we believe there is evidence beneath over-paint that will prove us right or indeed wrong, see ‘portrait’ page).
We are not asking any individual, institute or media source to state that this is William Shakespeare, but to ask the question, Is this William Shakespeare ?
SO WHAT, PORTRAITS OF SHAKESPEARE MUST BE
'TEN A PENNY'
I am not an Art Historian, academic or Shakespeare scholar. But I have become fascinated by the Life of William Shakespeare & amazed at how little is really known about him and of course what did he really look like?
This was not always the case, in fact until Dec 2013 I knew very little about Shakespeare's work or life, I still admit to knowing very little about his work.
My childhood home, where my parents still live in Hertfordshire (70 miles from Stratford-upon- Avon) is a small old cottage. My father was an antique dealer & picture framer. He has collected various objects over many years & so the 'Tudor portrait', (as he described) it, sitting in the corner of the living room for as long as I can remember was inconspicuous.
Over the last 50 years or so, there has of course been the occasional conversation wondering who the sitter may be, but no serious thoughts until my parents were watching Time Teams program about Shakespeare's home New Place! The Cobbe portrait claimed to be a portrait of Shakespeare (only declared as such some four years prior, by Stanley Wells) was frequently shown. This was an image my father was unfamiliar with, he also was not particularly interested in Shakespeare & if asked what he looked like, I am sure he would describe the 'default' image we all have...The Chandos or The Droeshout. My parents both looked at the Cobbe image flashing in front of them & looking above their TV at the portrait on their wall, thought they looked very similar. Nothing more was thought about it, so what was the attitude, after all portraits of Shakespeare must be 'Ten to the Penny'!
Then after 50 years of nothing by amazing coincidence a first time visitor (who it turned out lectures in art & literature) commented that she liked the 'copy' of Shakespeare on the wall. She was very surprised when shown the portrait close up & it was clearly an original painting. So commenced the fun a frustration!
Portrait now in secure storage. See 'Legals' for copyright details.
Steve Wadlow. Email address on contact page.
It would be ironic if the Wadlow was proven to be Shakespeare & the Cobbe turned out to be Overbury as some suggest. Or perhaps they are both Shakespeare.
One thing you have to ask yourself is this;
If The Wadlow was hanging in Cobbe's residence and The Cobbe was hanging above the Wadlow's Television, which do you think would now be the poster boy for The Shakespeare Birth Place Trust?
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Cobbe & Wadlow merged. Clearly not identical, many do not believe the Cobbe is Shakespeare, but you can see why the Wadlow's thought them similar whilst watching Television.
portraits of shakespeare