Archive for the ‘SHAKESPEARE’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ART AND SUBSIDY   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY GILL HORNBY IN THE TELEGRAPH

“The best books and songs and poems and plays do not get written, nor works of art crafted, because of state subsidy.”

This is an old and tired argument, especially popular in American right-wing circles.

It is superficially true if you imagine a kind of Monty Python post-office official doling out grants to struggling artists.

But reality is far more complex.

History gives us a much more sophisticated view about the creation of art and subsidy.

Without the patronage of the great dukes and cardinals (the government of the day), the Italian Renaissance would have been a far more sparse artistic period.

Great writers and composers in Britain and Germany benefited from the same kind of sources. Shakespeare had a lordly patron, and both Beethoven and Mozart benefited from patrons and trusts set up by admiring men of influence.

Even in America, we have evidence to the contrary of this proposition. The WPA during the great depression subsidized many artists, and in American cities you can still find some of the very handsome results in public monuments, buildings, and photographic collections.

Simplistic propositions, I’m afraid, always reveal simplistic minds.

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.