"Only" lifetime Shakespeare portrait unveiled in London
A portrait of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), believed to be the only surviving painting made of him during his lifetime, was unveiled in London Monday.
The artwork is believed to have been painted in 1610, six years before Shakespeare's death, when he was aged 46. The identity of the painter is unknown, dpa reported.
The newly-identified work remained in the same family for centuries and was inherited by art restorer Alec Cobbe, scholars told a London news conference Monday.
In 2006, Cobbe visited a National Portrait Gallery exhibition in London and saw a painting of Shakespeare that hangs in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.
That painting had been accepted as a life portrait of Shakespeare, but was discredited 70 years ago. Cobbe immediately realized the similarities with the painting he had inherited.
Believing that his was the original, he contacted Professor Stanley Wells, chairman of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Britain, who was initially sceptical.
"My first impression was scepticism - I am a scholar. But my excitement has grown with the amount of evidence about the painting," Wells said at the unveiling in London.
"I am willing to go 90 per cent of the way to declaring my confirmation that this is the only life time portrait of Shakespeare. It marks a major development in the history of Shakespearian portraiture."
The painting is due to go on display at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, on April 23, Shakespeare's birthday.