The Future of History

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Scars in their Eyes

In my last blog post, I provided a link to a new website which provides a wealth of information in support of the likelihood that the "Wadlow" portrait (detail, left) is a genuine portrait of William Shakespeare.

I believe it is, and in this blog post I shall point to just one of the features which helps to identify the sitter.

We'll be concentrating on the left eye (the sitter's left, that is) and, in particular, a distinctive scar immediately above the left eye.  It's clearly visible on the "Wadlow", cutting down from above the eyebrow to slice through the outer end of it.  Just in case, I'll provide another detail of the portrait, which brings us in a little closer.

There, see?  The scar comes down over the left forehead, meeting the left eyebrow about halfway across.  Something similar can be seen in the "Chandos" portrait of Shakespeare at the National Portrait Gallery:

It might look a little clearer in this detail of the above:

This scar was, apparently, something that Shakespeare bore for much of his life.  The evidence for this, I would suggest, is visible on the contested skull of Shakespeare at Beoley in Worcestershire (detail of photo by Richard Peach for The Village magazine):

A photo of the Beoley skull, taken at around the time of the Second World War, shows the scar over the left eyebrow very clearly:

Just in case, here's a detail of the same, showing the left eye socket and the scar above it:

So, Shakespeare had a scar over his left eye, cutting down over his left eyebrow, which is precisely what we see on the "Wadlow" portrait.

But, wait - what's that you say?  The Beoley skull was "proven" to have belonged to a mysterious, unknown female in her seventies and can't, therefore, have been Shakespeare?

Hmmnn ... tell you what: let's check one more image.

This is a detail from a facial reconstruction of the contested Shakespeare Death Mask in Darmstadt, Germany.  There it is, just above the left eyebrow - a scar which runs down to meet the eyebrow about halfway across.  The same reconstruction of Shakespeare's face from the death mask, only taken at a different angle, shows this scar very clearly:

And, for comparison, the scar on the death mask facial reconstruction alongside the scar on the Beoley skull:

They look pretty much the same, don't they?

Well, here's the odd thing.  That facial reconstruction of the death mask was done by Dr Caroline Wilkinson - the same expert who claimed that the Beoley skull was that of a woman in her seventies!

Admittedly, the Channel 4 Shakespeare's Tomb documentary, shown earlier this year, did rather railroad Dr Wilkinson into making that statement ... but maybe if Caroline Wilkinson had compared the skull with her own facial reconstructions of Shakespeare, she might have been less certain in her analysis.

The scar - on portraits, death mask, facial reconstructions and the Beoley skull - is one of Shakespeare's distinguishing features.

That, or a massive coincidence, requiring us to believe that the only skull to have been identified as the "veritable skull of William Shakespeare" actually belonged to an unknown septuagenarian, even thought it has exactly the same scar as Shakespeare had!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Is This William Shakespeare?

Apologies, first of all, for my absence from the blog for a little while.  Things have been busy on a number of fronts.

My very good friend Steve Wadlow has created an excellent website around the painting in his family's possession.  Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been working with Steve for over two-and-a-half years now, examining this remarkable portrait.

It is, as far as I'm concerned, a particularly good, near-contemporary portrait of William Shakespeare.  For more information, please visit Steve's Is This William Shakespeare? website.

One of the pages of the website - entitled "TECHNICAL" - shows some images created by Lumiere Technologie in Paris.  Of those, one clearly shows the "touching up" which had been done, at a later date, to cover up the visible damage to the left eye socket.

Another image, which is presented in the same animated graphic, shows a clear line running down the left cheek of the portrait from the outside of the left eye.

These lines are a feature of Shakespeare portraiture.  If you can find an image of the Shakespeare portrait which now hangs in the old schoolroom at King Edward VI Grammar School in Stratford-upon-Avon (where Shakespeare is presumed to have gone to school), you'll see a very similar line to that made visible on the Wadlow portrait by the technological wizardry of Lumiere.

One day, when the ultra-conservative mafia is no longer in a position to dictate what is known, and what is not allowed to be known, about Shakespeare, the Wadlow portrait will be recognised for what it is - the face of Shakespeare.

And maybe - just maybe - that time isn't so far away.

Do check out Steve's website.  It really is very good indeed.