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his works to be sought for? If any where, in London, the theatre of his fame and fortune, and the only place where painters, at that period, could have expected to thrive by their profession. We may suppose too, that the booksellers who employed Droeshout, discovered the object of their research by the direction of Ben Jonson who in the following lines has borne the most ample testimony to the verisimilitude of a portrait which will now be recommended, by a more accurate and finished engraving, to the publick notice :
“ The figure, that thou bere seest put,
“ Not on his picture, but his Booke.” That the legitimate resemblance of such a man has been indebted to chance for its preservation, would excite greater astonishment, where it not recollected, that a portrait of him has lately become an object of far higher consequence and estimation than it was during the period he flourished in, and the twenty years succeeding it; for the profession of a player was scarcely then allowed to be reputable. This remark, however, ought not to stand unsupported by a passage in The Microcosmos of John has been current in the world ever since the appearance of Mr. Granger's Biographical History.
* It is not improbable that Ben Jonson furnished the Dedication and Introduction to the first folio, as well as the Commendatory Verses prefixed to it. +
as he hath hit His face ;] It should seem from these words, that the plate prefixed to the folio 1623 exhibited such a likeness of Shakspeare as satisfied the eye of his contemporary, Ben Jonson, who, on an occasion like this, would hardly have ventured to assert what it was in the power of many of his readers to contradict. When will evidence half so conclusive be produced in favour of the Davenantico-Bettertonian - Barryan - Keckian-Nicolsian-Chandosan canvas, which bears not the slightest resemblance to the original of Droeshout's and Marshall's engraving?
de And say
ing indulged himself in a long and severe strain of satire Davies of Hereford, 4t0 Febi p. 215, where, after havon the vanity and affectation of the actors of his age, he subjoins
« Players, I loue yee and your qualitie,
* " W. S. R. B."
" Yet generous yee are in minde and moode.” The reader will observe from the initials in the margin of the third of these wretched lines, that W. Shakspeare was here alluded to as the poet, and R. Burbage as the painter.
Yet notwithstanding this compliment to the higher excellencies of our author, it is almost certain that his resemblance owes its present safety to the shelter of a series of garrets and lumber-rooms, in which it had sculked till it found its way into the broker's shop, from whence the discernment of a modern connoisseur so luckily redeemed it.
It may also be observed, that an excellent original of Ben Jonson was lately bought at an obscure auction by Mr. Ritson of Gray's Inn, and might once have been companion to the portrait of Shakspeare thus fortunately restored, after having been lost to the publick for a century and a half. They are, nevertheless, performances by very different artists. The face of Shakspeare was imitated by a delicate pencil, that of Jonson by a bolder hand. It is not designed, however, to appretiate the distinct value of these pictures; though it must be allowed (as several undoubted originals of old Ben are extant) that an authentick head of Shakspeare is the greater desideratum.
To conclude-those who assume the liberty of despising prints when moderately executed, may be taught by this
are all good, As long as all these goods are no worse us'd ;) So, in our aüthor's Othello:
“ Where virtue is, these are most virtuous.”
example the use and value of them ; since ito a coarse engraving by a second-rate artist*, the publick is in debted for the recovery of the only genuine portrait of its favourite Shakspeare.
Proposals by William Richardson, Printseller, Castle
Street, Leicester Square, for the Publication of two Plates, from the Picture already described.
These plates are to be engraved of an octavo size, and in the most finished style, by T. Trotter. A fac-simile of the hand-writing, date, &c. at the back of the picture, will be given at the bottom of one of them.
They will be impressed both on octavo and quarto paper, so as to suit the best editions of the plays of Shakspeare.
Price of the pair to Subscribers 7s. 6d. No proofs will be taken off. Non-subscribers 10s. 6d.
The money to be paid at the time of subscribing, or at the delivery of the prints, which will be ready on December 1st, 1794.
Such portions of the hair, ruff, and drapery, as are wanting in the original picture, will be supplied from Droeshout's and Marshall's copies of it, in which the inanimate part of the composition may be safely followed. The mere outline in half of the plate that accompanies the finished one, will serve to ascertain how far these supplements have been adopted. To such scrupulous fidelity the publick (which has long been amused by inadequate or ideal likenesses of Shakspeare) has an undoubted claim; and should any fine ladies and gentlemen of the present age be disgusted at the stiff garb of our author, they may readily turn their eyes aside, and feast them on the more
* There is reason to believe that Shakspeare's is the earliest known portrait of Droeshout's engraving. No wonder then that his performances twenty years after, are found to be executed with a somewhat superior degree of skill and accuracy. Yet still he was a poor engraver, and his productions are sought for more on account of their scarcity than their beauty. He seems in. deed to have pleased so little in this country, that there are not above six or seven heads of his workmanship to be found.
easy and elegant sait of clothes provided for him by his modern tailors, Messieurs Zoust, Vertue, Houbraken, and the humble imitators of their supposititious drapery.
The dress that Shakspeare wears in this ancient picture, might have been a theatrical one; as in the course of observation such another habit has not occurred. Marshall, when he engraved from the same portrait, materially altered its paraphernalia, and, perhaps, because he thought a stage garb did not stand so characteristically before a volume of poems as before a collection of plays; and yet it must be confessed, that this change might have been introduced for no other reason than more effectually to discriminate his own production from that of his predecessor. On the same account also he might have reversed the figure.
N. B. The plates to be delivered in the order they are subscribed for; and subscriptions received at Mr. Richardson's, where the original portrait (by permission of Samuel Felton, Esq.) will be exhibited for the inspection of subscribers, together with the earlier engravings from it by Droeshout in 1623, and Marshall in 1640 *.
Castle Street, Leicester Square,
Nov. 5, 1794.
Supplement to the Proposals of Mr. Richardson.
When the newly discovered portrait of our great dramatick writer was first shown in Castle-street, the few remaining advocates for the Chandosan canvas observed, that its unwelcome rival exhibited not a single trait of Shakspeare. But, all on a sudden, these criticks have
It is common for an artist who engraves from a painting that has been already engraved, to place the work of his prede cessor before him, that he may either catch some hints from it, or learn to avoid its errors. Marshall most certainly did so in the present instance; but while he corrected Droeshout's ruff, he has been led by him to desert his original in an unauthorised expansion of our author's forehead.
shifted their ground; and the representation originally
l pronounced to have been so unlike our author, is since declared to be an immediate copy from the print by Martin Droeshout.
But by what means are such direct contrarieties of opinion to be reconciled? If no vestige of the poet's features was discernible in the picture, how is it proved to be a copy from an engraving by which alone those features can be ascertained? No man will assert one thing to have been imitated from another, without allowing that there is some unequivocal and determined similitude between the objects compared. The truth is, that the first point of objection to this unexpected portrait was soon overpowered by a general suffrage in its favour. A second attack was therefore hazarded, and has yet more lamentably failed.
Ås a further note of the originality of the head belonging to Mr. Felton, it may be urged, that the artist who had ability to produce such a delicate and finished portrait, could most certainly have made an exact copy from a very coarse print, provided he had not disdained so servile an occupation. On the contrary, a rude engraver like Droeshout, would necessarily have failed in his attempt to express the gentler graces of so delicate a picture. Our ancient handlers of the burin were often faithless to the character of their originals; and it is conceived that some other performances by Droeshout will furnish no exception to this remark.
Such defective imitations, however, even at this period, are sufficiently common. Several prints from well-known portraits of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Mr. Romney, are rendered worthless by similar infidelities; for notwithstanding these mezzotints preserve the outlines and general effect of their originals, the appropriate characters of them are as entirely lost as that of Shakspeare under the hand of Droeshout.-Because, therefore, an engraving has only a partial resemblance to its archetype, are we at liberty to pronounce that the one could not have been taken from the other? It
may also be observed, that if Droeshout's plate had been followed by the painter, the line in front of the ruff would have been incurvated, and not have appeared straight, as it is in the smaller print by Marshall from the same picture. In antiquated English portraits, examples