JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: NEWLY DISCOVERED PORTRAIT: RALEIGH OR SHAKESPEARE?   Leave a comment

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TELEGRAPH

It remains a fair question.

The portrait has the good looks we would expect from an actor, Shakespeare’s first calling.

But then Raleigh was one of Elizabeth’s most prominent courtiers, and we know that group only included handsome men. Elizabeth was picky about brains and looks.

The eyes indicate intelligence, but Raleigh too was an exceptionally intelligent man.

If the sonnets are to be believed, Shakespeare was gay, and I have to say the face in this portrait does not appear to be that of a gay man, although one certainly cannot always tell such things.

The beautiful clothing in the portrait – actually the finest portion of the painting – would be what you expect in one of Elizabeth’s courtiers. They used to outdo each other in trying to impress at court.

Shakespeare’s theater work had undoubtedly made him a man of some means, but I’m not sure this made him so well-off that he could wear such finery. Then again, people undoubtedly wore their “Sunday best” for such portraits.

The other doubt in my mind is Shakespeare’s status in the early 17th century. Theater was not a completely respectable business as it is today. Would a prominent theater person have a portrait commissioned?

On the other hand, this does not seem to me the face of a man of action, and that was what Raleigh was in spades.

But even if the portrait were to be Shakespeare’s, that leaves completely unsettled the matter of whether he wrote the plays or provided a cover for someone else.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: