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The newly identified portrait of William Shakespeare has been unveiled at Dartmouth House, Mayfair, London Photo: Geoff Pugh

THE BARD!

From the Guardian:

The oil canvas is thought to have been painted in 1610 – six years before the playwright’s death – when he was about 46 years old.

It remained in the same family for centuries and was inherited by art restorer Alec Cobbe. In 2006, he visited the National Portrait Gallery and saw a painting of Shakespeare that hangs in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington.

It had been accepted as a life portrait of Shakespeare, but was discredited 70 years ago. Mr Cobbe saw the painting and realised the similarities with the painting he had inherited.

Believing his painting to be the original, he contacted Professor Stanley Wells, chairman of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, who was initially sceptical.

Investigations were carried out by Professor Rupert Featherstone, director of the Hamilton Kerr Institute at Cambridge University which focuses on conservation of easel paintings, Hamburg University where they dated the oak panelling of the painting and Tager Stonor Richardson, which carried out infrared imaging. Mark Broch, curator of the Cobbe Collection also carried out painstaking research.

Prof Wells said: “My first impression was scepticism – I am a scholar. But my excitement has grown with the amount of evidence about the painting.

“I am willing to go 90 per cent of the way to declaring my confirmation that this is the only life time portrait of Shakespeare. It marks a major development in the history of Shakespearian portraiture.”

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