« PreviousContinue »
angles in the coronal region as moral bulwarks to resist the attacks of the grosser feelings. It would be a great mistake to take any feature in this portrait as a model for a statue of the bard. Shakspere himself has shown us that he understood the relation between the inward conditions and the outward signs. He makes Thurio, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, say :
If I had my will, the painter should take me at my prayers : there is then a heavenly beauty in the face; the soul moves in the superfices,
The clown in Twelfth Night, on assuming the gown of the priest as a disguise, shows his knowledge of the relation of form and capacity, in saying :
I'm not fat enough to become the function well; nor lean enough to be thought a good student; but to be said an honest man and a good house-keeper, goes as fairly as to say, a careful man and a great scholar,
Shakspere is still more emphatic when he makes Cæsar
Let me have men about me that are fat,
Antony. Fear him not, Cæsar ; he's not dangerous ;
Cæsar. Would he were fatter !—but I fear him not;
The Chandos Portrait. This portrait is the most attractive, the most picturesque, and as a photograph finds the greatest favour with the public. But whatever the portrait originally may have been like, it comes with a questionable pedigree before it belonged to Betterton; and since his day it appears to have been much altered and improved. Sir Godfrey Kneller copied it ; Ozias Humphrey amended and improved it; Sir Joshua Reynolds retouched it; and it is said, too, that Sir Thomas Člarges got a young man, who was thought to be like Shakspere, to sit for the portrait. It is impossible to trace any traditional resemblance to Shakspere in the
portrait in the National Portrait Gallery; and unfortunately it carries its own condemnation on the face of it. It looks like a composition made to please the eye, and it has not the slightest heritage of the Warwickshire physiognomies--either those of the Shaksperes or the Hathaways --so far as I can trace them in their living representatives.
The forehead of the Chandos in the National Portrait Gallery is high, square, and noble in its proportions, but the face is somewhat dark, and the lips are thick, prominent and sensual. The eyes are large, and the nose also is large. There is a moustache, a full beard and whiskers, in the style introduced by Rubens in his portraits after his arrival in England in 1630. In this feature there is a great contrast to the Stratford bust and the Droeshout engraving. Besides, Shakspere's complexion was not dark, but fair and light. The form of the head, too, is carried too much into the abstract and metaphysical type to belong to the practical character of Shakspere.
The Jansen Portrait. Three portraits of Shakspere, by Jansen, were exhibited in the collection at Stratford, -one belonging to Mr. Staunton, another to Mr. Flack, a third to Sir J. L. Kaye, besides other copies after this painter. The Countess of Zetland exhibited a very interesting portrait, considered to be original. The Earl of Warwick had two portraits said to be of Shakspere. The Somerset Jansen has the date agreeing with the poet's age—“æt. 46, 1610." This portrait is a valuable work of art, and is regarded as a genuine portrait of Shakspere. Two of the above Jansens in the exhibition have the poet's name, and age 47, across the upper part of the picture.
The portraits by Jansen introduce a different type of head to those hitherto described. The best of these represent a refined, intellectual, and handsome man. The facial contour is aquiline, and the complexion fair. It is a singular fact that one or two of the portraits, and especially that belonging to Mr. Flack, agree with the mask alınost in every particular. There is the same oval face and fair complexion in both, the well-defined forehead, and very prominent yet evenly arched eye-brows. The upper lip is shorter than in the mask, but the moustache is separated in a similar manner. They both singularly agree in their
phrenological characteristics; but the eyes are blueishgrey. This seems to be an objection against the painting being from life, if the colours given to the bust at Stratford be true to nature, as they probably are, for they were painted under the direction of the poet's friends. As Jansen did not arrive in England till 1618, two years after the poet's death, he could not from personal observation know what colour the eyes of Shakspere were. But if he painted his beautiful portrait from the cast of the poet's face, then he would use the painter's license, and give the colour to the eyes to suit the temperament and complexion, which is generally blue in the xanthous or fair-haired sons of Scandinavia.
It is a curious fact that seven other portraits exhibited in this gallery had the aquiline physiognomy, making eleven out of thirty. That belonging to the Countess of Zetland has the same oval face, arched eyebrow, and sandy or light auburn hair; and when the mask taken from the face was placed near the portraits, it seemed to say in the words
of the poet:
Compare our faces, and be judge yourselves.” And it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the best of the Jansens has been painted either from this mask or one marvellously like it. In either case the difficulties which have hitherto hung around the portraits of Shakspere seein to vanish, and we begin to see him in his form and feature as he lived, finely organised in his mental combinations, with an ardent and highly impressionable nature and constitution, and all harmonious with his comely physical proportions, his handsome features, mental activity, and, above all, with a cerebral sensibility increased by the temperament of genius.
There is at Stratford an old painting of a group of figures representing a scene from Shakspere's Taming of the Shrew, which is said to have been painted by Thomas Hart, a nephew of Shakspere. In this group is the figure of Shakspere himself. The painting is in the possession of Mrs. Janies, who owns several other relics which belonged to the Hornbys, relations of the Harts. In this old picture Shakspere has the physical proportions and physiognomy indicated both by the niask and the Jansen portraitsma singular confirmation, for Thomas Hart, as scen
painter, must have been familiar with Shakspere's general appearance, either from knowledge or tradition. He has pictured him more true, physically speaking, to what is possible for the player, the writer, and the man of incessant activity and industry, than the rotund effigy, or the plump picture called the Stratford portrait.
Accurate casts of the whole head are the best and most reliable biographic memorial portraitures of men of note; and ere long these will be held in higher estimation than the fading colours of the decaying canvass. Even the antique busts of the Greeks and Romans, with their quiet smile, or austere glance, yet truthful contours, awaken a vivid sympathy with the distant and forgotten members of the great family of man, and convey a füller conviction of the identity of our species, and bring the past nearer to the present, than volumes of heavy historic records ; because
they appeal to sight and perception of form, proportion, and fitness in character.
It is rather remarkable, in connection with this Exhibition of Portraits of Shakspere in the town where he was born, lived, married, died, and lies buried, that a cast, taken it is said from his face after death, should, after 250 years' absence, be exhibited
side by side with portraits by artists of various periods. The test was a severe one, but highly important in its results, if we are enabled thereby to show that certain popular portraits are not likenesses of Shakspere, while others have a strong if not an undeniable claim to be considered true and genuine portraits of the poet.
The cast from the face was brought to light about 15 years ago. It is alleged to have been originally purchased by a German nobleman attached to the Court of James I., and preserved as a relic of Shakspere in the family of Kesselstadt, until the last of the race, Count von Kesselstadt, a canon of Cologne Cathedral, died in 1843, when his collection of curiosities was sold and dispersed. Dr. Becker purchased the cast and the miniature copy of it, and brought both to this country. On leaving England for Australia, he left the mask in the care of Professor Owen, at the British Museum. Becker was an enthusiastic botanist, who, joining the expedition under Burke, perished with him on the return from their Overland journey. ings and discoveries. On the back of the mask is the inscription—"A.D. 1616.”
The miniature which has accompanied it has a wreath around the head intimating that it is the likeness of a poet. Hain Friswell justly observes that “the cast bears some resemblance to the more refined portraits of the poet;" and I propose to direct attention to a few of these points of agreement or difference. There is 110 ground for the statement of those who think this mask furnished the tomb-maker with his model for the monument in the church. It is utterly impossible; for in nearly every facial and cranial outline where a comparison can be instituted, they are dissimilar.
When I first saw the mask lying flat under its glass cover,
I was doubtful of its genuineness, because it was at variance with the ethnic type of the Warwickshire physiognomy indicated by the Stratford monument, and to a considerable extent belonging to a majority of the people