What men and women are on your list of five notable people from the past whom you’d like to meet–okay, more than meet, let’s say sit with for a while over a hot beverage or a dry martini? I don’t know how many of you will fess up to that routine, but I still love doing it. And although my list is always evolving, Shakespeare is often lurking in the group, in spite of my attempts to shoo him away and come up with a more surprising visitor.
So I jumped on the news of Stanley Wells, of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, calling a press conference on Monday to unveil a 1610 portrait of a gentleman, Wells claiming that it has now been clearly established that the portrait is of Shakespeare. That’s it on the right.
Well, it doesn’t look like the guy I’ve been planning to meet for some time. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. has long displayed a later version of the same portrait, which, needless to say, doesn’t look like Shakespeare either, if we take the first folio portrait and the memorial bust as our two touchstones, as we must.
I’m glad to see that people who know more about this ( here you can read up on their opinion) seem to agree with me!
In 2006, the National Portrait Gallery, London, and then the Yale Center for British Art, presented a wonderful exhibit, Searching for Shakespeare. You can still visit the exhibit via the companion volume, above, published in this country by Yale University Press. It has an excellent summary of the Folger’s ersatz portrait of Shakespeare, along with discussion and display of other portraits, authentic and otherwise.
As for me, I’ll stick with the Chandos portrait on the cover, left, above. We’ll never really know if that’s of Shakespeare either, but for that mysterious man from Stratford the element of mystery seems entirely right!
Which five notable people of the past would you like to meet? Go ahead! Share!