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Represents SHIKSPEARE veated betweon the DRAMATICK MUSE and the GENIUS OP PAINTING
out as the proper Subject for her Poncil.
6 who is
may observe that, contrary to former usage, no head of Shakspeare is prefixed to the present edition of his plays. The undisguised fact is this. Theonly portrait of him that even pretends to authenticity, by means of injudicious cleaning, or some other accident, has become little better than the “ shadow of a shade."* The late Sir Joshua Reynolds indeed once suggeíted, that whatever person it was designed for, it miglat have been left, as it now appears, unfinished. Various copies and plates, however, are said at different times to have been made from it; but a regard for truth obliges us to confess that they are all unlike each other, t and convey no distinct resemblance of the poor remains of their avowed original. Of the drapery and curling hair exhibited in the
* Such, we think, were the remarks, that occurred to us several years ago, when this portrait was accessible. We wished indeed to have confrmed them by a second view of it; but a late accident in the no. ble family to which it belongs, has precluded us from that satisfaction.
+ Vertue's portraits have been over-praised on account of their fidelity; for we have now before us fix different leads of Shakspeare engraved by him, and do not scruple to assert that they have individually á different cast of countenance. Cucullus non facit monachum. The shape of our author's ear-ring and falling-band may correspond in them all, but where shall we find an equal conformity in his features ?
Few objeds indeed are occasionally more difficult to seize, than the fender traits that mark the charader of a face; and the eye will often
excellent engravings of Mr. Vertue, Mr. Hall, and Mr. Knight, the painting does not afford a vestige; nor is there a feature or circumfiance on the whole canvas, 'that can with minute precision be delineated. - We must add, that on very vague and dubious authority this head has hitherto been received as a genuine portrait of our author, who probably left behind him no such memorial of his face. As he was careless of the future state of his works, his solicitude might not have extended to the perpetuation of his looks. Had any portrait of him exifted, we may naturally suppose it must have belonged to his family, who (as Mark Antony says of a hair of Cæsar) would
have mention d it within their wills, Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
í Unto their issue;' and were there ground for thie report that Shakspeare was the real father of Sir William D'Avenant, and that the picture already spoken of was painted for him, we might be tempted to observe with our author, that the
16 Got 'twixt the natural sheets." But in support of either fuppofition fuMicient evidence has not been produced. The former of
dete& the want of them, when the most exa& mechanical process cannot decide on the places in which they are omitted.--Vertue, in short, though a laborious, was a very indifferent draughtsman, and his best copies too often exhibit a general instead of a particular resemblance.