‘True face of Shakespeare’ appears in botany book
19 May 2015
From the section Entertainment & Arts
The portrait is thought to date back to 1610
A 400-year-old botany book contains what could be the only known portrait of Shakespeare made in his lifetime, according to an academic expert.
Botanist and historian Mark Griffiths cracked an “ingenious cipher” to identify the playwright in an engraving in the 16th-Century work.
“This is what Shakespeare looked like, drawn from life and in the prime of life,” he said.
Details of his discovery are revealed in this week’s issue of Country Life.
Mark Hedges, the magazine’s editor, hailed it as “the literary discovery of the century”.
Speaking at London’s Rose Playhouse on Tuesday, he said: “We have a new portrait of Shakespeare, the first ever that is identified as him by the artist and made in his lifetime.”
He said Griffiths’ “unrivalled specialist knowledge” as an expert in the role of flora in the literature of the English Renaissance made him “uniquely qualified to discover the greatest Elizabethan of all.”
It is not the first time such claims have been made about a Shakespeare portrait.
In 2009, a painting known as the Cobbe portrait was put on show by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The trust said it was convinced the artwork – thought to date back to 1610 – was an authentic portrait, but some critics said the picture was not of Shakespeare.
Griffiths made his discovery when he was researching the biography of pioneering botanist John Gerard (1545-1612), author of The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes.
The 1,484 page book, published in 1598, is described as the largest single-volume work on plants that has been published in English.
The title page is illustrated with an engraving by William Rogers depicting …read more
Source:: BBC Entertainment