will: shakespeare is shakespeare

An Ottawa man has spent almost 20 years and more than $1 million trying to determine if an oil painting his family owns is the only portrait of William Shakespeare painted in the playwright's lifetime.

There's a long story in yesterday's Globe And Mail about five paintings of Shakespeare, and the claims for their respective dates. I think it's fascinating how this work is done.
Two works have been discredited in advance of the show. Last April, Cooper [an expert on 16th- and early 17th-century English portraiture], announced that one of the most recognizable Shakespeare images, the so-called "Flower portrait," was, in fact, a fake.

The painting, named after the Stratford brewing dynasty that donated the work to the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 19th century, carries a date of 1609 on its upper-left corner. But after four months of testing, the NPG experts determined it was painted between 1814 and 1840, on top of a 16th-century image of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus with St. John. The giveaway? Traces of chrome-yellow paint embedded deep in the portrait, a pigment that was first manufactured in the early 19th century.
In March, the National Portrait Gallery in London (UK) will open a Shakespeare-themed exhibition, "Searching for Shakespeare", followed by a conference on Shakespeare portraiture. The same exhibit is running now in the US, at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.

Experts don't hold out a lot of hope that the painting in Ottawa is authentic. But the owner, Lloyd Sullivan, says he has proof:
Eventually -- he won't say when -- he'll publish "a tell-all book, a conclusive book" that verifies the authenticity of the Sanders portrait with evidence from "other documents that nobody has seen."
If it is authentic, the painting will be worth up to $20 million. Seems to me that if Sullivan has conclusive proof, he'd show it now.
Meanwhile, Sullivan says it's unlikely his portrait will ever again be stored in the upstairs cupboard of his Ottawa home where it was kept until 2001. In fact, his family would like the AGO to own the portrait. "Preferably, we'd have somebody buy it and then donate it."
The Globe And Mail story is here; registration required.

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