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that an authentick head of Shakspeare is the greater defideratum.
To conclude those who affume the liberty of defpifing prints when moderately executed, may be taught by this example the ufe and value of them; fince to a coarse engraving by a fecond-rate artist, the publick is indebted for the recovery of the only genuine portrait of its favourite Shakspeare.
PRINTSELLER, CASTLE STREET, LEICESTER SQUARE,
FOR THE PUBLICATION OF
FROM THE PICTURE ALREADY DESCRIBED.
THESE Plates are to be engraved of an octavo fize, and in the most finished ftyle, by T. Trotter. A fac-fimile of the hand-writing, date, &c. at the
"There is reafon to believe that Shakspeare's is the earliest known portrait of Droefhout's engraving. No wonder then that his performances twenty years after, are found to be executed with a fomewhat fuperior degree of fkill and accuracy. Yet ftill he was a poor engraver, and his productions are fought for more on account of their fcarcity than their beauty. He feems indeed to have pleased fo little in this country, that there are not above fix or seven heads of his workmanship to be found.
back of the picture, will be given at the bottom of one of them.godin
They will be impreffed both on octavo and quarto paper, fo as to fuit the best editions of the plays of Shakspeare.
Price of the pair to Subfcribers 7s. 6d. No Proofs will be taken off. Non-fubfcribers 10s. 6d.
The money to be paid at the time of subscribing, or at the delivery of the prints, which will be ready on December 1ft, 1794. otba
Such portions of the hair, ruff, and drapery, as are wanting in the original picture, will be fupplied. from Droefhout's and Marshall's copies of it, in which the inanimate part of the compofition may be fafely followed. The mere outline in half of the plate that accompanies the finished one, will ferve to ascertain how far thefe fupplements have been adopted. To fuch fcrupulous fidelity the publick (which has long been amufed by inadequate or ideal likeneffes of Shakspeare) has an undoubted claim; and fhould any fine ladies and gentlemen of the prefent age be difgufted at the stiff garb of our author, they may readily turn their eyes afide, and feaft them on the more eafy and elegant fuit of clothes provided for him by his modern tailors, Meffieurs Zouft, Vertue, Houbraken, and the humble imitators of their fuppofititious drapery.
The dress that Shakspeare wears in this ancient picture, might have been a theatrical one; as in the courfe of obfervation fuch another habit has not occurred. Marshall, when he engraved from the fame portrait, materially altered its paraphernalia, and, perhaps, because he thought a ftage garb did not ftand fo characteristically before a volume of Poems as before a collection of Plays; and yet it must be confeffed, that this change might have been intro
duced for no other reason than more effectually to discriminate his own production from that of his predeceffor. On the fame account also he might have reverfed the figure.
N. B. The plates to be delivered in the order they are fubfcribed for; and fubfcriptions received at Mr. Richardfon's, where the original portrait (by permiffion of Samuel Felton, Efq.) will be exhibited for the infpection of fubfcribers, together with the earlier engravings from it by Droefhout in 1623, and Marfhall in 1640.1
Caftle Street, Leicefter Square,
It is common for an artist who engraves from a painting that has been already engraved, to place the work of his predeceffor before him, that he may either catch fome hints from it, or learn' to avoid its errors. Marshall moft certainly did fo in the prefent inftance; but while he corrected Droefhout's ruff, he has been led by him to defert his original in an unauthorised expanfion of our author's forehead.
PROPOSALS OF MR. RICHARDSON.
WHEN the newly discovered Portrait of our
great Dramatick Writer was firft fhown in Caftle Street, the few remaining advocates for the Chandofan canvas obferved, that its unwelcome rival exhibited not a fingle trait of Shakspeare. But, all on a fudden, these criticks have fhifted their ground; and the reprefentation originally pronounced to have been fo unlike our author, is fince declared to be an immediate copy from the print by Martin Droefhout.
But by what means are fuch direct contrarieties of opinion to be reconciled? If no veftige of the Poet's features was difcernible in the Picture, how is it proved to be a copy from an engraving by which alone thofe features can be ascertained? No man will affert one thing to have been imitated from another, without allowing that there is fome unequivocal and determined fimilitude between the objects compared.-The truth is, that the first point of objection to this unexpected Portrait was foon overpowered by a general fuffrage in its favour. A fecond attack was therefore hazarded, and has yet more lamentably failed.
As a further note of the originality of the Head belonging to Mr. Felton, it may be urged, that the artist who had ability to produce fuch a delicate and VOL. I. с
finished Portrait, could moft certainly have made an exact copy from a very coarfe print, provided he had not difdained fo fervile an occupation. On the contrary, a rude engraver like Droefhout, would neceffarily have failed in his attempt to express the gentler graces of fo delicate a picture. Our ancient handlers of the burin were often faithlefs to the character of their originals; and it is conceived that fome other performances by Droefhout will furnish no exception to this remark.
Such defective imitations, however, even at this period, are fufficiently common. Several prints from well-known portraits of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Mr. Romney, are rendered worthless by fimilar infidelities; for notwithstanding these mezzotints preserve the outlines and general effect of their originals, the appropriate characters of them are as entirely loft as that of Shakspeare under the hand of Droefhout. Because, therefore, an engraving has only a partial resemblance to its archetype, are we at liberty to pronounce that the one could not have been taken from the other?
It may also be observed, that if Droefhout's plate had been followed by the painter, the line in front of the ruff would have been incurvated, and not have appeared ftraight, as it is in the smaller print by Marshall from the fame picture. In antiquated English portraits, examples of rectilineal ruffs are familiar; but where will be found fuch another as the German has placed under the chin of his metamorphofed poet? From its pointed corners, refembling the wings of a bat, which are constant indications of mischievous agency, the engraver's ruff would have accorded better with the purfuits of his necromantick countryman, the celebrated Doctor Fauftus.