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than the entire countenance and part of the ruff is left; for the pannel having been fplit off on one fide, the reft was curtailed and adapted to a small frame." On the back of it is the following infcription, written in a very old hand: "Guil. Shakfpeare,7 1597.8 R. N." Whether thefe initials belong to the painter, or a former owner of the picture, is uncertain. It is clear, however, that this is the identical head from which not only the engraving by Droefhout in 1623, but that of Marshall 9 in 1640 was made; and though the hazards our
of fufpicious afpect; though for want of a more authentick archetype, fome few hints were received, or pretended to be received, from it.
Roubiliac, towards the clofe of his life, amufed himself by painting in oil, though with little fuccefs. Mr. Felton has his poor copy of the Chandos picture, in which our author exhibits the complexion of a Jew, or rather that of a chimney-fweeper in the jaundice.
It is fingular that neither Garrick, or his friends, fhould haye defired Roubiliac at leaft to look at the two earliest prints of Shakspeare; and yet even Scheemaker is known to have had no other model for our author's head, than the mezzotinto by Zouft.
• A broker now in the Minories declares, that it is his usual practice to cut down fuch portraits, as are painted on wood, to the fize of such spare frames as he happens to have in his poffeffion,
7 It is obfervable, that this hand-writing is of the age of Elizabeth, and that the name of Shakspeare is fet down as he himfelf has fpelt it.
The age of the perfon reprefented agrees with the date on the back of the picture. In 1597 our author was in his 33d year, and in the meridian of his reputation, a period at which his resemblance was most likely to have been fecured.
9 It has hitherto been fuppofed that Marshall's production was borrowed from that of his predeceffor. But it is now manifeft that he has given the very fingular ruff of Shakspeare as it stands in the original picture, and not as it appears in the plate from it by Martin Droefhout.
author's likeness was expofed to, may have been numerous, it is ftill in good prefervation.
But, as further particulars may be wifhed for, it fhould be fubjoined, that in the Catalogue of "The fourth Exhibition and Sale by private Contract at the European Museum, King Street, St. James's Square, 1792," this picture was announced to the publick in the following words:
"No. 359. A curious portrait of Shakspeare, painted in 1597."
On the 31ft of May, 1792, Mr. Felton bought it for five guineas; and afterwards urging fome inquiry concerning the place it came from, Mr. Wilfon, the conductor of the Museum already mentioned, wrote to him as follows:
"To Mr. S. Felton, Drayton, Shropshire.
The Head of Shakespeare was purchased out of an old house known by the fign of the Boar in Eaftcheap, London, where Shakefpeare and his friends used to refort, and report fays, was painted by a Player of that time, but whofe name I have not been able to learn.
The player alluded to was Richard Burbage.
A Gentleman who, for feveral years paft, has collected as many pictures of Shakspeare as he could hear of, (in the hope that he might at last procure a genuine one,) declares that the
Auguft 11, 1794, Mr. Wilfon affured Mr. Steevens, that this portrait was found between four and five years ago at a broker's fhop in the Minories, by a man of fashion, whofe name must be concealed: that it afterwards came (attended by the Eaftcheap ftory, &c.) with a part of that gentleman's collec tion of paintings, to be fold at the European Mufeum, and was exhibited there for about three months, during which time it was feen by Lord Leicester and Lord Orford, who both allowed it to be a genuine picture of Shakspeare,It is natural to fuppofe that the mutilated state of it prevented either of their Lordships from becoming its pure chafer,
How far the report on which Mr. Wilfon's nar ratives (refpecting the place where this picture was met with, &c.) were built, can be verified by evidence at prefent within reach, is quite immaterial, as our great dramatick author's portrait displays indubitable marks of its own authenticity. It is apparently not the work of an amateur, but of an artift by profeffion; and therefore could hardly have been the production of Burbage, the principal actor of his time, who (though he certainly handled the pencil) must have had infufficient leifure to perfect himself in oil-painting, which was then fo little understood and practifed by the natives of this kingdom.* I
Eaftcheap legend has accompanied the majority of them, from whatever quarter they were transmitted. *CONIL?
It is therefore high time that picture-dealers fhould avail themfelves of another ftory, this being completely worn out, and no longer fit for fervice. Lad by ot bab Me to qu
Much confidence, perhaps, ought not to be placed in this
remark, as a fucceffion of limmers now unknown might have purfued their art in England from the time of Hans Holbein to that of Queen Elizabeth.
Yet, by those who allow to poffibilities the influence of facts, it may be faid that this picture was probably the ornament of a club-room in Eaftcheap, round which other refemblances of contemporary poets and players might have been arranged:-that the Boar's Head, the fcene of Falftaff's jollity, might alfo have been the favourite tavern of Shakspeare:that, when our author returned over London Bridge from the Globe theatre, this was a convenient houfe of entertainment; and that for many years afterwards (as the tradition of the neighbourhood reports) it was understood to have been a place where the wits and wags of a former age were affembled, and their portraits repofited. To fuch fuppofitions it may be replied, that Mr. Sloman, who quitted this celebrated publick houfe in 1767, (when all its furnitare, which had devolved to him from his two immediate predeceffors, was fold off,) declared his utter ignorance of any picture on the premises, except a coarfe daubing of the Gadshill robbery.3 From
3 Philip Jones of Barnard's Inn, the auctioneer who fold off Mr. Sloman's effects, has been fought for; but he died a few years ago. Otherwife, as the knights of the hammer are faid to preferve the catalogue of every auction, it might have been known whether pictures conftituted any part of the Boar's Head furniture; for Mr. Sloman himself could not affirm that there were no fmall or obfcure paintings above ftairs in apartments which he had feldom or ever occafion to visit.
Mrs. Brinn, the widow of Mr. Sloman's predeceffor, after her husband's decease quitted Eaftcheap, took up the trade of a wireworker, and lived in Crooked Lane. She died about ten years ago. One, who had been her apprentice (no youth,) declares. fhe was a very particular woman, was circumftantial in her narratives, and fo often repeated them, that he could not poffibly forget any article she had communicated relative to the plate, furniture, &c. of the Boar's Head:-that the often spoke of the painting that represented the robbery at Gadshill, but never fo much as hinted at any other pictures in the house; and had there been any, he is fure fhe would not have failed to describe them
hence the following probabilities may be suggested: -first, that if Shakspeare's portrait was ever at the Boar's Head, it had been alienated before the fire of London in 1666, when the original houfe was burnt; and, fecondly, that the path through which the fame picture has travelled fince, is as little to be determined as the course of a fubterraneous fiream.
It may also be remarked, that if fuch a Portrait had exifted in Eaftcheap during the life of the induftrious Vertue,4 he would moft certainly have procured it, inftead of having fubmitted to take his firft engraving of our author from a juvenile likeness of James I. and his laft from Mr. Keck's unauthenticated purchase out of the dreffing-room of a modern actress.
It is obvious, therefore, from the joint depofitions of Mr. Wilfon and Mr. Sloman, that an inference difadvantageous to the authenticity of the Boar's Head ftory must be drawn; for if the portrait in queftion arrived after a filent progress through obfcurity, at the fhop of a broker who, being ignorant of its value, fold it for a few fhillings, it must neceffarily have been unattended by any history whatever. And if it was purchased at a fale of goods at the Boar's Head, as neither the mafter of the houfe, or his two predeceffors, had the leaft idea of having poffeffed fuch a curiofity, no intelligence could be fent abroad with
in her accounts of her former business and place of abode, which supplied her with materials for conversation to the very end of a long life.
4 The four laft publicans who kept this tavern are faid to have filled the whole period, from the time of Vertue's inquiries, to the year 1788, when the Boar's Head, having been untenanted for five years, was converted into two dwellings for fhopkeepers.