The Many Faces of Shakespeare: Is This One Really His?





Is a death mask found in a ragpicker's shop in 1842 that of William Shakespeare? This coming Saturday's issue of the British weekly New Scientist says the mask, bearing the date 1616 and the high forehead, prominent nose and beard associated with Shakespeare, could be, Agence France-Presse reported. At the behest of Prof. Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, a scholar of English literature at the University of Mainz in Germany, specialists at the German Federal Bureau of Investigation compared two portraits widely believed to be of Shakespeare with a bust in the Garrick Club in London and concluded that all the faces belonged to the same person.

Then engineers at Konica Minolta Europe scanned the bust and the death mask with lasers to construct three-dimensional computer models. "Superimposing the models revealed perfect matches between the forehead, eyes and nose," New Scientist reports. But the lips on the death mask, owned by the city of Darmstadt, Germany, were thinner than those on the bust. The professor said the lips would have shrunk because of loss of blood pressure after death. New Scientist says British experts remain unconvinced, and art historians suspect that the Garrick Club bust was made more than 140 years after Shakespeare died in 1616.



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