Dear Bendor Grosvenor
Thank you for writing an article about ‘The Wadlow’ portrait, (so named by others,) We are delighted to have an expert like yourself showing an interest, so I thought it only fair to answer the points you made.
I started looking into the identity of the sitter when there were two incidents in a relatively short period of time in which people mentioned that the portrait looked like William Shakespeare. Having no background in art history I have consulted experts such as (amongst others) Sir Roy Strong (ex National Portrait Gallery) Karen Hearn (ex-Tate) and Rupert Featherstone (Hamilton Kerr) they are all of the same opinion (after I had asked if it may be by Gheeraerts) that the painting was English in origin painted in the English style.
You accuse me of not having entertained the idea that it might not be English, but having consulted such eminent people I did not think it was my place to dismiss their opinions.
The Hamilton Kerr also x-rayed the portrait and that showed up areas of over-painting. One of these seems to be beneath the coat of arms so I believe it is reasonable to deduct that this was added later. The x-ray also shows that there is another coat of arms and possibly some text beneath the overpainting.
As to your statement that this is not Shakespeare, you will no doubt have noticed that the website is called “Is this William Shakespeare” not this is William Shakespeare.
You also say that there is “not one jot of evidence.” The evidence that has come to light so far is that the painting came from a manor house that was under-going restoration in the late 1960s, in the Banbury area and from our research so far the best match is Great Tew. As you know, Great Tew was once owned by the Keck family. Robert Keck (of Temple) owned the Chandos portrait. You will also be aware that George Vertue noted that Keck owned two portraits of Shakespeare one which was the Chandos and another (now lost) oil on panel painted in 1595. (He left his estate to Francis Keck of Great Tew, (the Chandos had previously been sold.) I know that you haven’t yet seen my painting but it is oil on panel and has been dated at around 1595. Shakespeare was 31 in 1595 and there is a figure 31 on the painting.
There is also the facial similarity which I think is undeniable as do most of the people to whom I have shown it. This includes Lumiere technology who took it upon themselves to create the video comparison which you featured with you article.
I am not stating that the portrait is definitely Shakespeare but given what has happened so far I hope that you would agree that it is worth continuing my research. If nothing else I am learning a lot about William Shakespeare and Tudor painting.
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated, again many thanks for your interest.
Bendor Grosvenor's article In Art History News Ends on This note;
"One thorn in the side of the Wadlow portrait is a coat of arms at upper right which is, alas, not that of William Shakespeare. To get around this problem, the Wadlow site claims that this coat of arms is a later addition, and thus not at all connected to the sitter. The evidence for this is an analysis of the coat of arms by a Herald at the College of Heralds in London, who said that the coat of arms seen in the painting does not match a standard English coat of arms. Therefore, Wadlow says, the coat of arms must be something inaccurately imagined by a later artist. The possibility that the picture might not be English, or the coat of arms innacurately rendered by an artist unfamiliar with such things, seems not to have been entertained."
Whilst, not part of our reply to AHN, there are other points made by Bendor Grosvenor, that are open to debate;
The Video merger with the Droeshout has been mentioned and shared. It has not been denied that there is a match! This though, is pushed aside as unimportant, as "there will be a point when the Wadlow can be made to look like Elizabeth1" This may be true, but the merger has not been stopped at a point! It matches without trickery.
The Droeshout has been used for hundreds of years as a basis for authenticating proposed portraits of Shakespeare. We believe None match as well as The Wadlow!
Indeed, when a portrait does not match The Droeshout, it is often ruled out on that basis, so why then, can we not use that as part of our case?
So far as other "imagined" things like cast in eye...They are there and not imagined.
The bottom line is, under over-paint there is very likely evidence as to who the sitter is, we are keen to uncover this to prove our theory correct, or indeed incorrect.
One thing we believe is for certain, is that if we are wrong and This is not Shakespeare, it must still be someone of importance historically, if it were a nobody, why the need to disguise the sitter. (If you are asking why would Shakespeare's image need to be disguised, you can find our reasons for that on this site).
And on that note, if our sitter is someone of importance, it has been commented that the sitter is Theatrical and Arty looking, not a nobleman or cleric......
Our Response To A H N ARTICLE, (NOW POSTED).
VERY PLEASED TO REPORT OUR RESPONSE HAS NOW BEEN ADDED
MY FAITH IN AHN HAS BEEN RESTORED !.
We are delighted that Dr Bendor Grosvenor has taken the time to write an article about The Wadlow portrait on his Art History News Site.
His article brings The Wadlow portrait to a wider audience. Bendor’s scepticism is understandable, he has been on a crusade about the Cobbe not being Shakespeare for some time, his opinion is valued and we welcome comment and input, surely an art historian of his standing would be interested in finding out who our sitter is, our site shows this could well be possible and that it could be Shakespeare, who knows at this stage!
But, his reasons and suggestions that 'we have not ‘entertained’ certain possibilities are not, we believe accurate and I believe show that he may not have had time to look into our research and the advice we have had to date before writing his article.
Those of you not visiting via A H N page link; Art History News is a very interesting art news Blog from the respected art historian and dealer, (who, as his site says, specialises in Old Masters & British pictures, especially portraits) Dr Bendor Grosvenor. You will no doubt be aware of him from his wonderful research on the fabulous BBC1 series Fake or Fortune & more lately BBC4 series Britain’s Lost Masterpieces.
Is This William Shakespeare © 2013
We are more than happy, in fact delighted to have Bendor Grosvenor interested, even if sceptical, and hope he may assist us rather than try to set us back with unbalanced articles. Surley, a researcher and art historian would like to get to the bottom of who our sitter is. It is not out of the question that our sitter could be Shakespeare!
Other points to Consider from the article.
SHAKE OR FORTUNE
Our response to ART HISTORY NEWS ARTICLE by Dr Bendor Grosvenor.
'This is not Shakespeare Continued' Published 12th Jan 2017.'