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Of the character repeatedly and deliberately beflowed by the fame Editor on the firft of these old engravers, not a fingle word will be retracted; for, if the judgment of experienced artists be of any value, the plate by Droefhout now under confideration has (in one inftance at least) established his claim to the title of "a moft abominable imitator of humanity."
Mr. Fufeli has pronounced, that the Portrait described in the Propofals of Mr. Richardfon, was the work of a Flemish hand. It may also be obferved, that the verfes in praise of Droefhout's performance, were probably written as foon as they were befpoke, and before their author had found opportunity or inclination to compare the plate with its original. He might previously have known that the picture conveyed a juft resemblance of Shakfpeare; took it for granted that the copy would be exact; and, therefore, rafhly affigned to the engraver a panegyrick which the painter had more immediately deferved. It is lucky indeed for those to whom metrical recommendations are neceffary, that cuftom does not require they should be delivered upon oath.
It is likewise probable that Ben Jonson had no intimate acquaintance with the graphick art, and might not have been over-folicitous about the style in which Shakspeare's lineaments were tranfmitted to pofterity.
after the life, though he did not add the words ad vivum, as was common upon fuch occafions. But if we grant this to be the cafe, the artist will acquire very little additional honour upon that account; for there is full as great a want of tafte manifeft in the defign, as in the execution of his works on copper." &c. Ibid. Vol. II. p. 125.
N. B. The character of Shakspeare as a poet; the condition of the ancient copies of his plays; the merits of his respective editors, &c. &c. have been fo minutely investigated on former occafions, that any fresh advertisement of fimilar tendency might be confidered as a tax on the reader's patience.
It may be proper indeed to obferve, that the errors we have difcovered in our last edition are here. corrected; and that fome explanations, &c. which feemed to be wanting, have likewise been fupplied.
To these improvements it is now become our duty to add the genuine Portrait of our author. For a particular account of the difcovery of it, we muft again refer to the Proposals of Mr. Richardson,3 at whofe expence two engravings from it have been already made.
We are happy to fubjoin, that Meffieurs Boydell, who have refolved to decorate their magnificent edition of Shakspeare with a copy from the fame original picture lately purchased by them from Mr. Felton, have not only favoured us with the use of it, but most obligingly took care, by their own immediate fuperintendance, that as much juftice fhould be done to our engraving, as to their own.
3 See p. 4.
MR. RICHARDSON'S PROPOSALS, &c.
EFORE the patronage of the publick is folicited in favour of a new engraving from the only genuine portrait of Shakspeare, it is proper that every circumftance relative to the discovery of it fhould be faithfully and circumftantially related.
On Friday, Auguft 9, Mr. Richardson, printfeller, of Caftle Street, Leicester Square, affured Mr. Steevens that, in the course of business having recently waited on Mr. Felton, of Curzon Street, May Fair, this gentleman fhowed him an ancient head refembling the portrait of Shakspeare as engraved by Martin Droefhout in 1623.
Having frequently been misled by fimilar reports founded on inaccuracy of obfervation or uncertainty of recollection, Mr. Steevens was defirous to fee the Portrait itself, that the authenticity of it might be afcertained by a deliberate comparifon with Droefhout's performance. Mr. Felton, in the most obliging and liberal manner, permitted Mr. Richardfon to bring the head, frame and all, away with him; and feveral unqueftionable judges have concurred in pronouncing that the plate of Droefhout conveys not only a general likeness of its original, but an exact and particular one as far as this artist
had ability to execute his undertaking. Droefhout could follow the outlines of a face with tolerable accuracy, but ufually left them as hard as if hewn out of a rock. Thus, in the present inftance, he has fervilely transferred the features of Shakspeare from the painting to the copper, omitting every trait of the mild and benevolent character which his portrait fo decidedly affords.-There are, indeed, juft fuch marks of a placid and amiable difpofition in this resemblance of our poet, as his admirers would have wifhed to find.
This Portrait is not painted on canvas, like the Chandos Head,5 but on wood. Little more of it
• Of fome volunteer infidelities, however, Droefhout may be convicted. It is evident from the picture that Shakspeare was partly bald, and confequently that his forehead appeared unufually high. To remedy, therefore, what feemed a defect to the engraver, he has amplified the brow on the right fide. For the fake of a more picturefque effect, he has alfo incurvated the line in the fore part of the ruff, though in the original it is mathematically ftraight. See note 9, p. 6.
It may be observed, however, to thofe who examine trifles with rigour, that our early-engraved portraits were produced in the age when few had kill or opportunity to ascertain their faithfulness or infidelity. The confident artift therefore affumed the liberty of altering where he thought he could improve. The rapid workman was in too much hafte to give his outline with correctnefs; and the mere drudge in his profeffion contented himfelf by placing a caput mortuum of his original before the publick. In fhort, the inducements to be licentious or inaccurate, were numerous; and the rewards of exactnefs were feldom attainable, most of our ancient heads of authors being done, at ftated prices, for bookfellers, who were carelefs about the verifimilitude of engravings which fashion not unfrequently obliged them to infert in the title-pages of works that deserved no fuch expenfive decorations.
A living artist, who was apprentice to Roubiliac, declares that when that elegant ftatuary undertook to execute the figure of Shakspeare for Mr. Garrick, the Chandos picture was borrowed; but that it was, even then, regarded as a performance
than the entire countenance and part of the ruff is left; for the pannel having been fplit off on one fide, the reft was curtailed and adapted to a fmall frame. On the back of it is the following infcription, written in a very old hand: "Guil, Shakfpeare,7 1597.8 R. N." Whether these initials belong to the painter, or a former owner of the picture, is uncertain. It is clear, however, that this is the identical head from which not only the engraving by Droefhout in 1623, but that of Marshall 9 in 1640 was made; and though the hazards our
of fufpicious afpect; though for want of a more authentick archetype, fome few hints were received, or pretended to be received, from it.
Roubiliac, towards the clofe of his life, amufed himself by painting in oil, though with little fuccefs. Mr. Felton has his poor copy of the Chandos picture, in which our author exhibits the complexion of a Jew, or rather that of a chimney-sweeper in the jaundice.
It is fingular that neither Garrick, or his friends, should have defired Roubiliac at leaft to look at the two earliest prints of Shakspeare; and yet even Scheemaker is known to have had no other model for our author's head, than the mezzotinto by Zouft.
• A broker now in the Minories declares, that it is his ufual practice to cut down fuch portraits, as are painted on wood, to the fize of such spare frames as he happens to have in his poffeffion.
7 It is obfervable, that this hand-writing is of the age of Elizabeth, and that the name of Shakspeare is fet down as he himfelf has fpelt it.
The age of the perfon represented agrees with the date on the back of the picture. In 1597 our author was in his 33d year, and in the meridian of his reputation, a period at which his resemblance was most likely to have been secured.
It has hitherto been fuppofed that Marshall's production was borrowed from that of his predeceffor. But it is now manifest that he has given the very fingular ruff of Shakspeare as it ftands in the original picture, and not as it appears in the plate from it by Martin Droeshout.