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Searching for Shakespeare - National Portrait Gallery

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AN EXHIBITION entitled Searching for Shakespeare can be seen at London’s National Portrait Gallery until May 29, 2006.

We probably all think we know what Shakespeare looked like but do we? For surprising though it may seem, there is no certain lifetime portrait of England’s most famous poet and playwright.

Now, on its 150th anniversary, the National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting six “contender” portraits purporting to represent Shakespeare – together for the first time.

They include the Chandos portrait – the first portrait presented to the newly-founded National Portrait Gallery in 1856. Although the image is considered to be of Shakespeare, there is no proof to that effect.

The exhibition is, however, presenting the results of new technical analysis and research on several of these pictures, casting new light on the search for the Bard’s authentic image.

The exhibition also attempts to place him within his own time by bringing together original documents relating to his life, along with portraits of his contemporaries – actors, patrons and fellow playwrights.

Tickets: £8/£5.25

For further information visit the National Portrait Gallery’s website.

If you enjoy Shakespeare, you might enjoy Greenwich Playhouse’s Accessing Shakespeare season. Read more