Friday 22 January 2016

The Engraved Portraits of William Shakespeare


Portrait of William Shakespeare
Martin Droeshout
Engraving from the First Folio, 1623.

Title page of the First Folio, by William Shakespeare, 1623.
with copper engraving of the author by Martin Droeshout.
Second State.
34 cm × 22.5 cm (13 in × 8.9 in).

Image courtesy of the Elizabethan Club and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.

For more on the four states of this engraving see -

William Shakespeare
by William Marshall
Engraving - 1640.

Engraved for John Bensons collection of Shakespeare's Sonnets


The Eighteenth Century Engraved Portraits
of William Shakespeare.
Rysbrack as an avid collector of engravings would certainly have been aware of the following engravings and as in his other historicising portrait busts it is not difficult to see how these engravings were used as sources for his busts
William Shakespeare
Engraving by Gaspard Duchange (1662 - 1757)
After a miniature by Benjamin Arlaud (1670 - 1721).
180 x 115 mm.
The BM says after Arnaud's version of the Chandos portrait;

This Illustration to Theobald's edition of the 'Works of Shakespeare'. 1733.

British Museum.
It appears that this engraving came from a retouched plate of 1709 used in the Nicholas Rowe (1674 - 1718) 6 volume edition of the works of Shakespeare published by Jacob Tonson. Rowe became Poet Laureate. 
For a downloadable article written on the Arnaud/ Duchange engraved portrait see

William Shakespeare
Engraving by George Vertue.
Inscribed - Done from the original in the possession of Robert Keck of the Inner Temple Esq.
The 'Chandos portrait', now in the NPG, which was first recorded when it passed from the collection of Robert Keck to his cousin, Francis, on the former's death in 1719.

George Vertue, writing on the Chandos Portrait in 1719 records -

'The picture of Shakespeare ('the only' crossed out) one original in Posesion/ of Mr Keyck of the Temple. he bought for forty guinnea/of Mr Baterton who bought it off Sr W. Davenant. to whom it was left by will of John Taylor. who had/it of was painted by one Taylor a player and painter contemp: with Shakes and his intimate friend. The name 'Richard Burbage' is crossed out in the margin. (later insertions in bold.
 Mr Betterton told Mr Keck several times that the / Picture of Shakespeare he had, was painted by one John Taylor / in his will he left it to Sir William Davenant.& at / the death of Sir Will Davenant - Mr Betterton bought / it & at his death Mr Keck bought it in whose / now is (1719 in the margin)'.
Despite this there is still some doubt - Davenant is known to have embroidered his relationship with Shakespeare for his own ends
For a fuller discussion on the subject of this portrait see -
Searching for Shakespeare, Tarnya Cooper, Yale University Press. 2006

William Shakespeare
Engraving by George Vertue
After a miniature in the possession of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford.
Engraving, 1721.
228 x 163 mm.
 Inscribed 'Ad Originalem Tabulam penes Edwardum Dominum Harley. / G. Vertue, Sculp. 1721.'.
Annotated in pencil on the verso 'front. to Pope's ed. of Shakspeare, 1725 / Qy a proof'.
British Museum.
The Ruff is perhaps an invention of Vertue.
William Shakespeare.
Gerard van der Gucht (1696 - 1776)
Undated Engraving
believed circa 1730.
130 mm x 78 mm
© National Portrait Gallery, London
I include this mezzotint illustrated below as Michael Rysbrack would certainly have owned or seen a copy of it.
William Shakespeare
after Zoust (Gerard Soest) c 1600 - 1681.
Worked in England in the late 17th century.
Mezzotint by John Simon mid 18th century.
 "Zoust pinx."; "Shakespeare Ob: A.D. 1616. AEtat: 53."; "Done from a Capital Picture in the Collection of T. Wright Painter in Coven Garden." and "I. Simon fe et ex."
Based on the portrait illustrated below.
345 x 250 mm.
John Simon: Mezzotinter. b. Normandy, trained Paris as a line engraver, fled to England as a Huguenot c.1700 where became a mezzotinter. Early work for Edward Cooper; by c.1720 published most plates himself. Ceased work after 1742. Plates sold in November 1761. Address (until late 1710s) Cross-Lane Long Acre (after 1720), Seven Stars in King Street, Covent Garden Golden Eagle in Villiers Street New Street, Covent Garden.
William Shakespeare
Gerard Soest (Zoust) (c.1600 - 1681).
Dated 1667.
Oil on canvas
765 x 645 mm.
It has been suggested that this portrait is based on the Chandos Portrait possibly painted by John Taylor in about 1610.
George Vertue suggested that it is a painting of a man who resembled Shakespeare.
BBC your paintings records 50 paintings by Soest (Zoust). 
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Sir Thomas Clarges, c. 1667;
Thomas Wright, c. 1685 - c. 1725;
William Douglas, Esq., c. 1790;
Captain Drake sale, Tregoning, Penryn, Cornwall, 30 March 1807, lot 19, as Portrait of Shakespeare, supposed by Zoust, 2' 9§ x 2' 1§ in a black and gilt frame;
  John Lister Kaye (Sir), c.1827; Stamford (Earl of); J. F. Grey, (Sir); Christie's sale, 9 April 1954, lot 92.
  Bought from Antiqualia Lda., Lisbon Portugal in 1959

Monument of William Shakespeare

George Vertue.
Etching and Engraving
225 x 156 mm. (image Size).
'Ingenio Pylium, Genio Socrates, arte Maronem, Terra Tegit, Populus Maeret, Olympus Habet. / Stay, passenger, why dost thou go so fast? Read if thou canst, whom envious Death has plac'd Within this Monument; Shakespear, with whom Quick Nature dy'd, whose Names doth deck the Tomb Far more than Cost, since all that he has Writ Leaves living Art, but Page to serve his Wit. / Obt. Ano. Dni. Aetat. 53.Die 23 Apr.
Illustration for Alexander Pope's 1723 edition of Shakespeare's works.

Sketch of the Shakespeare Monument drawn by George Vertue when visiting with Edward Harley the Earl of Oxford 1st January 1737 from his notebooks.
Self portrait of George Vertue
It appears to be showing Vertue holding a miniature of Lord Oxford in his left hand and the drawing or engraving of the portrait being pointed to with his right hand.
Pencil and red chalk, 1741
9 1/4 in. x 5 1/2 in. (235 mm x 140 mm)
Purchased, 1972
NPG 4876
National Portrait Gallery.

Collections: bought 1972 through Colnaghis at Sotheby's, 23 March, lot 78; previous history unknown.

Literature: (Sir) George Scharf, Catalogue of the Pictures Belonging to the Society of Antiquaries, 1865; R.W. Goulding, The Welbeck Abbey Miniatures, 1916; H.W. Foote, John Smibert Painter, 1950.


Signed or inscribed on papers at table edge: inv & del / G. Vertue / 1741 and inscribed below: G. Vertue / London; within a cartouche to the right, below the Prince of Wales crest: HONOR / ALIT ARTES.

This drawing is almost identical in technique and size with the self-portrait tipped into Vertue's notebook Aj in the British Museum, Add. MS 21111. Both are drawn in black pencil heightened with red on handmade eighteenth-century paper and show Vertue holding a miniature, apparently of his patron, the Earl of Oxford. The setting and the inscriptions are the same. The BM drawing, whose history is unknown before the nineteenth century, is more crisp and detailed. Close comparison reveals a. number of small differences, e.g. in the drapery top left, in the area where the sitter's right sleeve touches the arm of the chair; in the drawing of the face and below the rule in the lettering and the crest. There are also two strokes of red, bottom right, in the BM drawing. Some of these differences may be held to point to another hand, and the question of authorship of NPG 4876 remains, to some extent, open. There is, nonetheless, sufficient resemblance of style not to exclude Vertue. It is worth bearing in mind that some eighteenth-century draughtsmen such as Richardson and Carmontelle sometimes made several drawings of the same subject.
Notes lifted verbatim from National Portrait Gallery website -


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