A Portrait of A Dandy: Shakespeare Revealed
After three years of research, a portrait of the real William Shakespeare was unveiled on Monday. What's being identified as the "Cobbe Portrait," is a painting of Shakespeare that was inherited by an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family, the Cobbes, 300 years ago through Shakespeare’s only known literary patron. It wasn't until a few years ago that one of the members of the Cobbe family saw a wood cut print of Shakespeare in a traveling exhibit called "Searching for Shakespeare," that he recognized the likeness to their family's heirloom.
Until this revelation, the only known image of the playwright was a wood cut copy (below) of the original painting by a Flemish artist.
This well-known wood cut was printed on the first folio edition of Shakespeare's work in 1623 (and reproduced on every high school anthology since).
Then there was this rather dowdy, overweight bust of the writer created in 1620.
Well history has now shown us that Will was actually a svelte, dashing
gay guy, with a visage more in keeping with his deft, poetic and insightful works.
photo from the AP
Although some say this painting represents an idealized Elizabethan portrait, most scholars are convinced the painting is the closest representation of the man. The New York Times reports:
...experts said they were convinced after three years of studying the portrait, and after elaborate scientific tests at Cambridge University, that it was, in effect, the holy grail Shakespearean scholars had sought for centuries: a portrait done in Shakespeare’s lifetime, and the original from which other Shakespeare paintings of the period were copied. They said their studies showed it probably was painted in 1610, when Shakespeare was 46, and only a few years from his death in 1616.