Rare Portrait Might Not Be Shakespeare

Experts disagree on authenticity
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2009 9:28 AM CDT
A newly discovered portrait, possibly of William Shakespeare, presented by the Shakespeare Birthplace trust, is seen in central London, Monday March 9, 2009.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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(Newser) – A recently rediscovered painting originally thought to be the only surviving portrait of Shakespeare may actually portray a 17th-century courtier, the Telegraph reports. The subject’s clothes are too grand to be the playwright's, experts say, and although the portrait is similar to another image believed to be of the Bard, the more likely explanation is that both are actually pictures of the poet Sir Thomas Overbury.

Not everyone agrees: “I am willing to go 90% of the way to declaring my confirmation that this is the only lifetime portrait of Shakespeare,” said Stanley Wells, chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which will display the portrait. “It marks a major development in the history of Shakespearian portraiture.”