<< Search Results
Bookmark and Share

Attributed to Borsseler, Pieter (Dutch painter, active 1664-1687) , The Chesterfield Portrait of Shakespeare

Core Record

Title The Chesterfield Portrait of Shakespeare
Collection Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon
Artist Attributed to Borsseler, Pieter (Dutch painter, active 1664-1687)
Previously attributed to Zuccaro, Federico (Italian painter and draftsman, ca. 1541-1609)
Date Earliest about 1660
Date Latest about 1670
Description Portrait of Shakespeare seated. The figure, which occupies the right hand side of the composition, wears black, voluminous clothing with a soft, white collar similar to the Soest Portrait of Shakespeare and the Chandos Portrait (National Portrait Gallery). His right hand is placed upon an open book with curling pages which rests on a tapestry covered table. With his left hand, he makes an open handed gesture, his index finger pointing outwards. The head is modelled on that of the Chandos Portrait including the beard, high forehead and characteristic earring. The figure is set against a swathe of crisp, red drapery. The baroque drapery, voluminous garment and theatrical gesture are reminiscent of the style of Sir Peter Lely.
Current Accession Number STRST:SBT1967-3
Former Accession Number STRST:Picture No. 187
Inscription front ul '[S]HAKESPEARE/OP___ 1616'. front ll 'F. Zuccaro'
Subject portrait (William Shakespeare)
Measurements 127.5 x 120 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by Lincoln Kirstein 1967.
Provenance Halifax Collection until 1739/40; Halifax sale, 1739/40, lot 13, bought by Earl of Chesterfield; Chesterfield sale, Bretby, 1918, lot 2701 (;); in various hands 1918 - 1949; Christie's 2 December 1949, Lot 163; American Shakespeare Festival Theatre and Academy.
Publications Hain Friswell, J., Life Portraits of William Shakespeare 1864; Parker Norris, J., Portraits of Shakespeare, 1885; Inquiry into the Shakespeare Portraits by James Boeden; Piper, D., The Image of the poet: British Poets and their Portraits, 1982; Wivell, A., Inquiry into the History, Authenticity & characteristics of the Shakespeare Portraits: together with an exposé of the spurious pictures and prints: in which the criticisms of Malone, Stevens, Boaden, and others, are examined, confirmed, or refuted, 1827; ‘Notebooks', The Walpole Society, vol. 24,1936, pp. 13 -14 (note of an actor sitting as Shakespeare).
Notes The inscription 'F. Zuccaro' was uncovered by cleaning by James Roth in 1967. He wrote that it 'did not seem superimposed' in a letter to Dr Levi Fox of 12.12.1967 (Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Archive). However, this attribution is certainly wrong as Zuccaro was in England for perhaps six months in 1574/5. George Vertue, when he saw the painting at the Halifax sale in 1739/40 thought it had 'a head new painted onto the posture, perhaps by Sykes' (a painter working in the first and second decades of the eighteenth century). This would imply that the painting had been made of someone else in the 1660's and then altered to represent Shakespeare around 1700. However, restoration in 1962 showed no evidence of such a history. Like the Soest Portrait, this painting is also associated with the anecdote which originates from Vertue and appears in The Gentleman's Magazine in 1759 which relates that Clarges (the first owner of the portrait) commissioned a young actor who looked like Shakespeare to sit for the portrait by Lely. The current attribution of Dutch artist Peter Borsseler was made by Oliver Millar, a leading authority on seventeenth century painting. He notes that it is very close to that artists portrait of Sir William Dugdale.
Rights Owner Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



about        contact        terms of use        image credits        © 2018