What did William Shakespeare really look like? Most of us have seen the same image for the last five hundred years, from an engraving by Martin Droeshout, done about seven years after Shakespeare died.
It shows us a Shakespeare who was a big-headed, little fella, in plain garments and looking a tad shabby.
A recently unveiled portrait, thought to have been painted when Shakespeare was 46 years old, shows a much different sort, a refined looking chap in fancy Italian lace. One expert announces, “A lot of people have the wrong image of Shakespeare, and I’m pleased that the picture confirms my own feelings — this is the portrait of a gentleman.” (We like our writers to be gentlemen!)
The painting, done by Michael Deas for a biography of Martha by Patricia Brady, shows a young Martha. Deas painted the portrait based on a computer-generated image by a forensic anthropologist.
Modern scholarship and technology are giving us a better idea of what historical figures really looked like, and so far the trend is good. Can we look forward to a future where all our historical figures are better looking?
A side note: Michael Deas also painted the Columbia Pictures logo when it was redone in 1993, using model Jennifer Joseph.