Time has an article that unveils the first true portrait of Shakespeare. Until now, the closest portrait of the writer had been made after his death, so people weren’t sure that was what Shakespeare truly looked like.
While the news is fascinating in itself, I found it even more fascinating because I went to an exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art titled “Searching for Shakespeare” in 2006. Apparently, Alec Cobbe, the person who owns the Shakespeare portrait, went to the same exhibit (when it was being shown at the National Portrait Gallery in London) when he realized that the posthumous paintings of Shakespeare on display were terribly similar to a portrait that he had in his collection.
How wonderful it is that when a question is put out there in the public, there is a great chance of it getting answered? It also points out the painful fact that many great masterpieces are lying around in people’s homes, unknown to the owners of their true value. (My grandmother, for instance, threw out a painting when she moved 40 years ago- which now costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.) It also reminds me of a great Roald Dahl short story (Parson’s Pleasure) of a greedy London antique dealer who pretends to be a minister and makes calls in the country to spot antique furniture.