portraits of shakespeare
Is This William Shakespeare © 2013
We believe that our portrait could very well be William Shakespeare. Equally we understand that to prove this is an enormous task. We have discovered from the X-Ray etc, that there has been deliberate concealment of whom the sitter is (see page 'Why we believe this is William Shakespeare for why this may have been) & if we can uncover what was beneath, this may prove us correct, equally it may prove us wrong, but we are prepared to take that chance to find the truth.
We have been advised to have the over-paint stripped back by various experts, to have the portrait stripped back, restored.
This is, we agree, an obvious plan of action, but for now, we are reluctant to do so for the following reasons;
1: Cost. This will not be a cheap exercise and it would have to be done by the best.
2: Risk. Restoration, stripping back, is not without risk, what if we had the nightmare scenario of removing vital evidence by accident... We would never know.
3: I can not help but feel that this process takes something away from the history of the portrait, changes are part of it & for now I am cautious of interfering with it further.
I believe that modern advances in scientific & forensic art analysis will enable us to see what is beneath, without physical change to the portrait. Once these have been revealed, we can then consider restoration, with the results assisting the restorer.
Somewhere, there is a facility & the knowhow to carry out this task.
First stop in this quest was Lumiere Technology (In the news early 2016 for their research regarding the Mona Lisa). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-35031997
LUMIERE TECHNOLOGY ABOVE IMAGES & ABOVE RIGHT;
The image of 'Verso' shows the name 'Zuchero' written, this may be misleading and see page 'artist' for more details. The other images show the portrait in different light & clarity. Demonstrating how the costume beneath the collar may have looked without the Collar. The portrait takes on an even more 'Theatrical air' in these images.
Research is ongoing & we are keen to subject the Portrait to more scientific testing to reveal what may be beneath should any institute believe they can assist. If you can help, please email us. See contact page.
The portrait has been subjected to Lumiere Technologies (Paris & Geneva) Multispectral high definition digitization. A process pioneered by co founder Pascal Cotte, who along with Jean Penicaut aim to create a unique database of art as never seen before. The process is in simple terms designed to 'peel back' the layers of a painting, like the layers of an onion.
Lumiere have recently been in the news including TV programs, about their research into the Mona Lisa. The Louvre gave them access to perform their process on the Mona Lisa! It was believed by some scholars that there was a second (or first Mona Lisa) and Lumiere believe that their process, followed by many years of 'piecing' the results together has demonstrated that there was another Mona Lisa, under the original!
With this in mind, Lumieres, analysis of our portrait is ongoing, it is not a quick process, but initial findings indicate that the portrait was painted from life. As with Hamilton Kerr, the process has not proven that The portrait is not Shakespeare, thus far. Lumiere, of course, at this stage cannot comment on if it is or is not, but they did make a video comparison with the Droeshout to see if they matched. This video is on our home page, I believe it is a very good match, you may draw your own conclusions.
It is worth noting that, one reason originally given that our portrait is Not Shakespeare, was that it did not look like the Droeshout, which is used to judge such things. We believe it does match, very well!
After consulting the College of Arms regarding the 'Coat of Arms' on the top right of the portrait and their confirmation that this did indeed appear to be a poorly executed later edition and our belief that there appeared to be a 'shield' shape under 'over-paint' on the left, we asked The Hamilton Kerr Institute to take a look & to see if X-ray or Infra-red could reveal more about this and the painting in general.
Rupert Featherstone took a great deal of time studying the portrait & was happy that it was 'original' and genuine to the period. Chris Titmus, photographer, at the Institute carried out various processes including the wonderful photograph now used. This image in itself, has been revealing and in the slide-show above you can see where on the collar there appears to be writing, now covered. (colour image with area circled red).
X-Ray was revealing & disappointing at the same time; Clearly showing that the Coat of Arms was a later addition and also showing that there was previously something beneath that area, over a larger area. It also clearly shows that on the left, there was indeed previously a shield, now covered. However, this x-ray was not able to reveal detail of what was / or is there.
The x-ray also confirms that there is much over-paint all over the background around the head. There does not appear to be any image beneath, indicating that the panel was not (as was sometimes the case) a re used one.
One very interesting discovery was that, on the sitters right side of face, it can clearly be seen that an area along the side of the eye has been re-painted. This may have been necessary due to damage, but I believe we should also consider the possibility that this is an attempt at a later date by someone to either improve the appearance of the portrait, (was it previously indented, a peculiar feature of the Droeshout?) or to disguise this revealing feature of whom the sitter was!
Rupert Featherstone also noted that the sitters right eye (viewers left) had also been repainted "& a far better eye lay beneath)". Interestingly, the sitters left eye with the distinctive cast appears to be original. In conclusion, the analysis carried out at the Hamilton Kerr, appears to confirm the Portrait to be genuine to the period, in good condition with more to be revealed. Rupert Featherstone advised 'stripping back' the over paint to see what may be beneath. It was not proved that the portrait is Shakespeare, It did not prove that it was not!