Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

than the entire countenance and part of the ruff is left ; for the pannel having been split off on one side, the rest was curtailed and adapted to a small frame. On the back of it is the following inscription, written in a very old hand : “ Guil. Shakspeare,? 1597.8 R. N." Whether these initials belong to the painter, or a former owner of the picture, is uncertain.' It is clear, however, that this is the identical head from which not only the engraving by Droeshout in 1623, but that of Marshall 9 in 1640 was made; and though the hazards our author's likeness was exposed to, may have been numerous, it is still in good preservation.

of suspicious aspect; though for want of a more authentick archetype, some few hints were received, or pretended to be received, from it.

Roubiliac, towards the close of his life, amused himself by painting in oil, though with little success. Mr. Felton has his poor copy of the Chandos picture, in which our author exhibits the complexion of a Jew, or rather that of a chimney-sweeper in the jaundice.

It is fingular that neither Garrick, or his friends, should have desired Roubiliac at least to look at the two earliest prints of Shakspeare; and yet even Scheemaker is known to have had no other model for our author's head, than the mezzotinto by Zouft.

• A broker now in the Minories declares, that it is his usual practice to cut down such portraits, as are painted on wood, to the size of such fpare frames as he happens to bave in his pofferfion.

? It is observable, that this hand-writing is of the age of Elizabeth, and that the name of Shakspeare is set down as he himself has spelt it.

& The age of the person represented agrees with the date on the back of the pi&ture. In 1597 our author was in his 33d year, and in the meridian of his reputation, a period at which his resemblance was most likely to have been secured.

9 It has hitherto been supposed that Marshall's production was borrowed from that of his predecessor. But it is now manifest that he has given the very singular ruff of Shakspeare as it stands in the original picture, and not as it appears in the plate from it by Martin Droefhout,

But, as further particulars may be wished for, it should be subjoined, that in the Catalogue of “ The fourth Exhibition and Sale by private Contract at the European Museum, King Street, St. James's Square, 1792," this picture was announced to the publick in the following words :

“ No. 359. A curious portrait of Shakspeare, painted in 1597."

On the 31st of May, 1792, Mr. Felton bought it for five guineas; and afterwards urging some inquiry concerning the place it came from, Mr. Wilson, the conductor of the Museum already mentioned, wrote to him as follows:

“ To Mr. S. Felton, Drayton, Shropshire.

SIR,

“The Head of Shakespeare was purchased out of an old house known by the sign of the Boar in Eastcheap, London, where Shakespeare and his friends used to resort,—and report says, was painted by a Player of that time, but whose name I have not been able to learn.

“ I am, Sir, with great regard,

66 Your most obedt. servant, “ Sept. 11, 1792."

J. Wilson.”

" The player alluded to was Richard Burbage.

A Gentleman who, for several years past, has collected as many pictures of Shakspeare as he could hear of, (in the hope that he might at last procure a genuine one,) declares that the

1

than the entire countenance and part of the ruff is left ; for the parinel having been split off on one side, the rest was curtailed and adapted to a small frame. On the back of it is the following inscription, written in a very old hand : “ Guil. Shakspeare,? 1597.8 R. N.' Whether these initials belong to the painter, or a former owner of the picture, is uncertain. It is clear, however, that this is the identical head from which not only the engraving by Droeshout in 1623, but that of Marshall 9 in 1640 was made; and though the hazards our

of suspicious aspect ; though for want of a more authentick archetype, some few hints were received, or pretended to be received, from it.

Roubiliac, towards the clofe of his life, amused himself by painting in oil, though with little fuccefs. Mr. Felton has his poor copy of the Chandos picture, in which our author exhibits the complexion of a Jew, or rather that of a chimney-sweeper ip the jaundice.

It is fingular that neither Garrick, or his friends, should have desired Roubiliac at least to look at the two earliest prints of Shakspeare; and yet even Scheemaker is known to have had no other model for our author's head, than the mezzotinto by Zouft.

0 A broker now in the Minories declares, that it is his usual practice to cut down such portraits, as are painted on wood, to the size of such fpare frames as he happens to have in his pofferfion.

7 It is observable, that this hand-writing is of the age of Elizabeth, and that the name of Shakspeare is set down as he himself has spelt it.

8 The age of the person represented agrees with the date on the back of the pi&ture. In 1597 our author was in his 33d year, and in the meridian of his reputation, a period at which his resemblance was most likely to have been secured.

9 It has hitherto been supposed that Marshall's production was borrowed from that of his predecessor. But it is now manifest that he has given the very singular ruff of Shakspeare as it stands in the original picture, and not as it appears in the plate from it by Martin Droeshout.

author's likeness was exposed to, may have been numerous, it is still in good preservation.

But, as further particulars may be wished for, it should be subjoined, that in the Catalogue of “ The fourth Exhibition and Sale by private Contract at the European Museum, King Street, St. James's Square, 1792,” this picture was announced to the publick in the following words :

“ No. 359. A curious portrait of Shakspeare, painted in 1597."

On the 31st of May, 1792, Mr. Felton bought it for five guineas; and afterwards urging some inquiry concerning the place it came from, Mr. Wilson, the conductor of the Museum already mentioned, wrote to him as follows:

“ To Mr. S. Felton, Drayton, Shropshire.

SIR,

-The Head of Shakespeare was purchased out of an old house known by the sign of the Boar in Eastcheap, London, where Shakespeare and his friends used to resort,—and report says, was painted by a Player of that time, but whose name I have not been able to learn. I am, Sir, with great regard,

“ Your most obedt. servant, “ Sept. 11, 1792."

“ J. Wilson.”

+ The player alluded to was Richard Burbage.

A Gentleman who, for several years past, has collected as many piąures of Shakspeare as he could hear of, (in the hope that he might at last procure a genuine one,) declares that the

August 11, 1794, Mr. Wilson assured Mr. Steevens, that this portrait was found between four and five years ago at a broker's shop in the Minories, by a man of fashion, whose name must be concealed: that it afterwards came (attended by the Eastcheap story, &c.) with a part of that gentleman's collection of paintings, to be sold at the European Museum, and was exhibited there for about three months, during which time it was seen by Lord Leicester and Lord Orford, who both allowed it to be a genuine picture of Shakspeare.--It is natural to suppose that the mutilated state of it prevented either of their Lordships from becoming its purchafer.

How far the report on which Mr. Wilson's narratives (respecting the place where this picture was met with, &c.) were built, can be verified by evidence at present within reach, is quite immaterial, as our great dramatick author's portrait displays indubitable marks of its own authenticity. It is apparently not the work of an amateur, but of an artist by profeffion; and therefore could hardly have been the production of Burbage, the principal actor of his time, who (though he certainly handled the pencil) must have had insufficient leisure to perfect himself in oil-painting, which was then so little understood and practised by the natives of this kingdom.

Eastcheap legend has accompanied the majority of them, from whatever quarter they were transmitted.

It is therefore high time that picture-dealers should avail themselves of another story, this being completely worn out, and no longer fit for service.

2 Much confidence, perhaps, ought not to be placed in this remark, as a succession of limners now unknown might have pursued their art in England from the time of Hans Holbein to that of Queen Elizabeth.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »