Death Masks and Undying Faces

So, I’m on vacation.  I wander into the living room of the house we’ve rented where my father-in-law is watching the History Channel, and I see the Chandos portrait on tv.  So you know what we’re doing for the next hour :).  Turns out that it is a show about “death masks”, not specifically Shakespeare.  We’ve just come in on his segment.

This is odd, I think – I would surely know about a new discovery like this.  (Turns out I did,back in 2006).  So it’s not a new show.  That makes sense.  Since we have 3 small children running around making noise it’s hard to get all the details, but the gist of it appears to be a comparison of the Chandos and Cobbe portraits to the death mask, but it’s unclear to me which they are assuming is real and which they are trying to prove.

Mentioning the show on Twitter led me to, which in turn linked here, an article I could swear I’ve seen before about authenticating (or in this case, refuting) the Cobbe portait.  What I find unusual, that I don’t think I noticed the first time around, is this:

On comparing the Cobbe and Janssen portraits, and referring also to the Droeshout engraving and the four previously authenticated true-to-life images (the Chandos and Flower portraits, the Davenant bust and the death mask)

 (Emphasis mine). Ummm…really?  Chandos and Flowers are authenticated as true-to-life?  Now we’re back into “How did I miss that???” land.

I am still technically on vacation, writing this while the rest of the family has breakfast, so I can’t make it too long.  Anybody got comment?

One thought on “Death Masks and Undying Faces

  1. All of Shakespeare's portraits are questionable for one reason or another. We can safely say he was bald, and a man, but not much more than that.

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