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"The figure, that thou here feeft put,
O, could he but have drawne his wit
"His face; the print would then furpaffe
That the legitimate refemblance of fuch a man has been indebted to chance for its prefervation, would excite greater astonishment, were it not recollected, that a portrait of him has lately become an object of far higher confequence and eftimation than it was during the period he flourished in, and the twenty years fucceeding it; for the profeffion of a player was fcarcely then allowed to be reputable. This remark, however, ought not to ftand unfupported by a paffage in The Microcofmos of John Davies of Hereford, 4to. 1605, p. 215, where, after having indulged himself in a long and fevere ftrain of fatire on the vanity and affectation of the actors of his age, he fubjoins
His face ;] It should feem from these words, that the plate prefixed to the folio 1623 exhibited such a likeness of Shakspeare as fatisfied the eye of his contemporary, Ben Jonson, who, on an occafion like this, would hardly have ventured to affert what it was in the power of many of his readers to contradict. When will evidence half fo conclufive be produced in favour of the Davenantico-Bettertonian-Barryan-Keckian-Nicolfian-Chandofan canvas, which bears not the flightest resemblance to the original of Droefhout's and Marshall's engraving?
*" w. S. R. B."
"Players, I loue yee and your qualitie,
The reader will obferve from the initials in the margin of the third of thefe 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 almoft certain that his resemblance owes its prefent fafety to the shelter of a series of garrets and lumber-rooms, in which it had fculked till it found its way into the broker's fhop from whence the difcernment of a modern connoiffeur fo luckily redeemed it.
It may also be obferved, that an excellent original of Ben Jonfon was lately bought at an obfcure auction by Mr. Ritfon of Gray's Inn, and might once have been companion to the portrait of Shakspeare thus fortunately restored, after having been loft to the publick for a century and a half. They are, nevertheless, performances by very different artifts. The face of Shakspeare was imitated by a delicate pencil, that of Jonfon by a bolder hand. It is not defigned, however, to appretiate the distinct value of these pictures; though it must be allowed (as feveral undoubted originals of old Ben are extant)
are all good,
As long as all these goods are no worfe us'd;] So, in our author's Othello:
"Where virtue is, thefe are most virtuous."
that an authentick head of Shakspeare is the greater defideratum.
To conclude those who affume the liberty of defpifing prints when moderately executed, may be taught by this example the ufe and value of them; fince to a coarse engraving by a fecond-rate artist,9 the publick is indebted for the recovery of the only genuine portrait of its favourite Shakspeare.
PRINTSELLER, CASTLE STREET, LEICESTER SQUARE,
FOR THE PUBLICATION OF
FROM THE PICTURE ALREADY DESCRIBED.
THESE Plates are to be engraved of an octavo, fize, and in the most finished ftyle, by T. Trotter. A fac-fimile of the hand-writing, date, &c. at the
There is reafon to believe that Shakspeare's is the earliest known portrait of Droefhout's engraving. No wonder then that his performances twenty years after, are found to be executed with a fomewhat fuperior degree of fkill and accuracy. Yet ftill he was a poor engraver, and his productions are fought for more on account of their scarcity than their beauty. He feems indeed to have pleased fo little in this country, that there are not above fix or seven heads of his workmanship to be found.
back of the picture, will be given at the bottom of one of them.
They will be impreffed both on octavo and quarto paper, fo as to fuit the best editions of the plays of Shakspeare.
Price of the pair to Subfcribers 7s. 6d. No Proofs will be taken off. Non-fubfcribers 10s. 6d. The money to be paid at the time of fubfcribing, or at the delivery of the prints, which will be ready on December 1ft, 1794.
Such portions of the hair, ruff, and drapery, as are wanting in the original picture, will be supplied from Droefhout's and Marshall's copies of it, in which the inanimate part of the compofition may be fafely followed. The mere outline in half of the plate that accompanies the finished one, will ferve to ascertain how far thefe fupplements have been adopted. To fuch fcrupulous fidelity the publick (which has long been amused by inadequate or ideal likeneffes of Shakspeare) has an undoubted claim; and fhould any fine ladies and gentlemen of the prefent age be difgufted at the ftiff garb of our author, they may readily turn their eyes afide, and feaft them on the more eafy and elegant fuit of clothes provided for him by his modern tailors, Meffieurs Zouft, Vertue, Houbraken, and the humble imitators of their fuppofititious drapery.
The dress that Shakspeare wears in this ancient picture, might have been a theatrical one; as in the courfe of obfervation fuch another habit has not occurred. Marshall, when he engraved from the fame portrait, materially altered its paraphernalia, and, perhaps, because he thought a ftage garb did not ftand fo characteristically before a volume of Poems as before a collection of Plays; and yet it must be confeffed, that this change might have been intro
duced for no other reason than more effectually to difcriminate his own production from that of his predeceffor. On the fame account also he might have reverfed the figure.
N. B. The plates to be delivered in the order they are fubfcribed for; and fubfcriptions received at Mr. Richardfon's, where the original portrait (by permiffion of Samuel Felton, Efq.) will be exhibited for the inspection of subscribers, together with the earlier engravings from it by Droefhout in 1623, and Marthall in 1640.1
Caftle Street, Leicester Square,
Nov. 5, 1794.
1 It is common for an artist who engraves from a painting that has been already engraved, to place the work of his predeceffor before him, that he may either catch fome hints from it, or learn to avoid its errors. Marshall most certainly did fo in the prefent inftance; but while he corrected Droefhout's ruff, he has been led by him to defert his original in an unauthorised expansion of our author's forehead.