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Lord Orford as a lover of truth,) began to doubt the authenticity of the picture from which his first engraving had been made, and was therefore easily persuaded to expend his art on another portrait, the spuriousness of which (to himself at least) was not quite so evident as that of its predecessor.
The publick, for many years past, has been familiarized to a Vandyckish head of Shakspeare, introduced by Simon's mezzotinto from a painting by Zoust. Hence the countenance of our author's monumental effigy at Westminster was modelled; and a kindred representation of him has been given by Roubiliac. Such is still the Shakspeare that decorates our libraries, and seals our letters. But, ætatis cujusque notandi sunt tibi mores. On a little reflection it might have occurred, that the cavalier turn of head adopted from the gallant partizans of Charles I. afforded no just resemblance of the sober and chastised countenances predominating in the age of Elizabeth, during which our poet flourished, though he survived till James, for about thirteen years, had disgraced the throne.The foregoing hint may be pursued by the judicious examiner, who will take the trouble to compare the looks and air of Shakspeare's contemporaries with the modern sculptures, &c. designed to perpetuate his image. The reader may then draw an obvious inference from these premises; and conclude, that the portrait lately exhibited to the publick is not supposititious because it presents a less spritely and confident assemblage of features than had usually been imputed to the modest and unassuming parent of the British theatre.-It is certain, that neither the Zoustian or Chandosan canvas has displayed the least trait of a quiet and gentle bard of the Elizabethan age.
To ascertain the original owner of the portrait
now Mr. Felton's, is an undertaking difficult enough; and yet conjecture may occasionally be sent out on a more hopeless errand.
The old pictures at Tichfield House, as part of the Wriothesley property, were divided, not many years ago, between the Dukes of Portland and Beaufort. Some of these paintings that were in good condition were removed to Bulstrode, where two portraits of Shakspeare's Earl of Southampton are still preserved. What became of other heads which time or accident had impaired, and at what period the remains of the furniture, &c. of his Lordship's venerable mansion were sold off and dispersed, it may be fruitless to enquire.
Yet, as the likeness of our author lately redeemed from obscurity was the work of some eminent Flemish artist, it was probably painted for a personage of distinction, and might therefore have belonged to the celebrated Earl whom Shakspeare had previously complimented by the dedication of his Venus and Adonis. Surely, it is not unreasonable to suppose, that a resemblance of our excellent dramatick poet might have been found in the house of a nobleman who is reported to have loved him well enough to have presented him with a thousand pounds.
To conclude the names which have honoured
One of these portraits is on canvas, and therefore the genuineness of it is controverted, if not denied.
In the numerous List of Gentlemen who thoroughly examined this original Picture, were convinced of its authenticity, and immediately became Subscribers to W. Richardson, are the names of-Dr. Farmer, Mr. Cracherode, Mr. Bindley, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir George Shuckburgh, Mr. Chalmers, Mr. Reed, Mr. Ritson, Mr. Douce, Mr. Markham, Mr. Weston, Mr. Lysons, Mr. James, Col. Stanley, Mr. Combe, Mr. Lodge, Mess. Smith, sen. and jun. Mr. Nicol, Mr. Boaden, Mr. Pearce, Mr.
the subscription for an engraving from this newfound portrait of Shakspeare, must be allowed to furnish the most decisive estimate of its value.
[Since the foregoing Paper was received, we have been authorized to inform the Publick, that Messieurs Boydell and Nicol are so thoroughly convinced of the genuineness of Mr. Felton's Shakspeare, that they are determined to engrave it as a Frontispiece to their splendid Edition of our Author, instead of having recourse to the exploded Picture inherited by the Chandos Family.]
From the European Magazine, for December,
Whitefoord, Mr. Thane, Mess. Boydell, Mr. G. Romney, Mr. Lawrence, (Portrait-painter to his Majesty,) Mr. Bowyer, (Miniature-painter to his Majesty,) Mr. Barry, R. A. (Professor of Painting,) &c. &c. &c.
The following pages, on account of their connection with the subject of Mr. Richardson's Remarks, are suffered to stand as in our last edition.
PREFIXED TO EDITION 1793.
THE reader may observe that, contrary to former usage, no head of Shakspeare is prefixed to the present edition of his plays. The undisguised fact is this. The only portrait of him that even pretends to authenticity, by means of injudicious cleaning, or some other accident, has become little better than the "shadow of a shade." The late Sir Joshua Reynolds indeed once suggested, that whatever person it was designed for, it might have been left, as it now appears, unfinished. Various copies and plates, however, are said at different times to have been made from it; but a regard for truth obliges us to confess that they are all unlike each other, and convey no distinct resemblance
* Such, we think, were the remarks, that occurred to us several years ago, when this portrait was accessible. We wished indeed to have confirmed them by a second view of it; but a late accident in the noble family to which it belongs, has precluded us from that satisfaction.
Vertue's portraits have been over-praised on account of their fidelity; for we have now before us six different heads of Shakspeare engraved by him, and do not scruple to assert that they have individually a different cast of countenance. Cucullus non facit monachum. The shape of our author's ear-ring and fallingband may correspond in them all, but where shall we find an equal conformity in his features?"
Few objects indeed are occasionally more difficult to seize, than the slender traits that mark the character of a face; and the
of the poor remains of their avowed original. Of the drapery and curling hair exhibited in the excellent engravings of Mr. Vertue, Mr. Hall, and Mr. Knight, the painting does not afford a vestige; nor is there a feature or circumstance on the whole canvas, that can with minute precision be delineated. We must add, that on very vague and dubious authority this head has hitherto been received as a genuine portrait of our author, who probably left behind him no such memorial of his face. As 'he was careless of the future state of his works, his solicitude might not have extended to the perpetuation of his looks. Had any portrait of him existed, we may naturally suppose it must have belonged to his family, who (as Mark Antony says of a hair of Cæsar) would
and were there ground for the report that Shakspeare was the real father of Sir William D'Avenant, and that the picture already spoken of was painted for him, we might be tempted to observe with our author, that the
"Was kinder to his father, than his daughters
But in support of either supposition sufficient evidence has not been produced. The former of these
eye will often detect the want of them, when the most exact mechanical process cannot decide on the places in which they are omitted.-Vertue, in short, though a laborious, was a very indifferent draughtsman, and his best copies too often exhibit a general instead of a particular resemblance.