William Shakespeare portrait could be 16th century courtier





A portrait believed to be the only surving portrait of William Shakespeare painted in his lifetime could be the 17th century courtier Sir Thomas Overbury, an expert believes.

The Jacobean painting from the family collection of art restorer Alec Cobbe was thought to be the bard because it closely resembled the engraving in Shakespeare's First Folio.

It is also noticeably similar to another painting believed to be the playwright owned by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.

But now experts believe the elaborate lace collar and gold embroided doublet are too grand for the playwright.

Dr Tarnya Cooper, the sixteenth-century curator at the National Portrait Gallery in London, believes the portrait bears a greater likeness to Sir Thomas Ovebury.

She told The Times: “if anything, both works, the Folger and Cobbe portraits, are more likely to represent the courtier Sir Thomas Overbury”.

An authentic portrait of Sir Thomas Overbury (1581–1613) was bequeathed to the Bodleian Library in Oxford in 1740 and bears a close likeness to the Cobbe painting.

In both pictures the sitter bears distincitve marks such as a bushy hairline and a slightly disformed left ear.




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