Pictures of William shakespeare

I am not an Art Historian, academic or Shakespeare scholar. But I have become passionate in researching the Life of William Shakespeare and the mysteries surrounding him, including, of course, what did he 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, but I have found his life (and how little is known about him) fascinating. 

The interest started by chance, that December.

A brief history as to how this all began. 

My childhood home, where my parents still live, in a small market town in Hertfordshire England, (some 70 miles from Stratford-upon- Avon) is a small 200 year old house on the corner of a road called Chapel Street. (By coincidence, Shakespeare's home in Strattford-upon-avon was on the corner of Chapel Street). My father was an antique dealer and over the years he has collected various objects and 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.

This changed in that December when my parents were watching a Time Team investigation about Shakespeare's home New Place.  

During this program, an image, known as The Cobbe  (only declared as a probable portrait of Shakespeare some four years previous, by Alec Cobbe & Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust) was frequently shown. My parents thought it looked similar to the portrait above their TV.

By amazing coincidence they were then visited a couple of weeks after by someone visiting for the first time. This lady (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 and it was clear it was very likely genuine to the period. (we have ascertained since that it is genuine to the period and most likely from life). ​And so started my research and fascination with the subject.  

Portrait now in secure storage. See 'Legals' for copyright details.      Steve Wadlow. Email address on contact page.

How research commenced & Early Opinions.

You will find detailed information about our research on this site and updates on the NEWS page, Facebook & Twitter.
Once it was suggested that our portrait may be Shakespeare, I studied other portraits making comparisons & decided, although the Coat of Arms on our portrait were clearly not the Shakespeare Coat of Arms, that there were enough similarities to look into this further and seek opinions.   (Coat of Arms are later addition it transpired)
Firstly, we had to ascertain as to whether the Portrait was genuine to the period, was it painted in Shakespeare’s lifetime?
Opinions sought from art experts / connoisseurs are from the very highest & most respected in the field. See List of experts consulted on Contact & Legals Page.
Some experts viewed the Portrait ‘in the flesh’ and some viewed the high resolution images. ALL (including the National Portrait Gallery) agreed that the portrait, is a ‘fine’ portrait, in very good condition, & all agreed it 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 were asked if they thought it may be Shakespeare, these are 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! ".

 "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”

 On asking if our sitter could be Shakespeare, The Shakespeare Birth Place Trust's response was cautious, suggesting that it was not a copy of the Cobbe. Shakespeare historians / authors 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.
The portrait has been subjected to technical research including X-Ray, these uncovered some interesting detail. Please see ‘Technical’ page.

Those that have expressed an opinion, 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, become very debatable. On our home page there is a video merger with the Droeshout made by one of the research facilities consulted.

We shall 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 ?


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