A portrait said to be the only signed, and dated image of William Shakespeare created during his lifetime has gone on sale for Rs 96 crore (more than £10m). The portrait of the famous playwright is currently displayed at the Grosvenor House hotel in west London.
Owner wishes to be anonymous
The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, is offering the piece for sale by private treaty without an auction. The portrait was made by the court painter of King James I, Robert Blake. It is signed and dated 1608.
Before 1975, the picture hung in the library of a stately home in the north of England, once home to the Danby family. Since then, it has been in private ownership.
Those behind its sale claim the connections between Shakespeare and Peake are “extensive” and that the artist was regularly commissioned to paint the portraits of high-ranking members of the court and Jacobean society.
Two paintings that validly portray him
It further mentions that only two posthumous paintings of Shakespeare are usually accepted as legitimate. These are the engraving on the First Folio’s title page, published in 1623, and the sculpture at his funeral monument in Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare died in 1616 at the age of 52.
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Art expert Duncan Phillips, who investigated the work ahead of the sale, told Independent, “There is more evidence for this portrait of Shakespeare than any other known painting of the playwright. The picture has survived the past 400 years almost untouched by wear and tear thanks to its ownership by a family of Shakespeare enthusiasts who hung it in their library.”
However, Shakespeare expert Michael Dobson told the Daily Mail suggestions that the painting is of the Bard are “wishful thinking”.
There have been numerous claims and counterclaims over the legitimacy of paintings of the playwright in previous years.
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