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that an authentick head of Shakspeare is the greater defideratum.
To conclude_those who assume the liberty of despising prints when moderately executed, may be taught by this example the use and value of them; since to a coarse engraving by a second-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 size, and in the most finished style, by T. Trotter. A fac-simile of the hand-writing, date, &c. at the
9 There is reason to believe that Shakspeare's is the earliest known portrait of Droeshout's engraving. No wonder then that his performances twenty years after, are found to be executed with a somewhat superior degree of skill and accuracy. Yet still he was a poor engraver, and his productions are fought for more on account of their scarcity than their beauty. He seems indeed to have pleased so little in this country, that there are not above six or seven heads of his workmanship to be found.
back of the picture, will be given at the bottom of one of them.
They will be impressed both on octavo and quarto paper, so as to suit the best editions of the plays of Shakspeare.
Price of the pair to Subscribers 7s. 6d. No Proofs will be taken off. Non-subscribers 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 1st, 1794.
Such portions of the hair, ruff, and drapery, as are wanting in the original picture, will be supplied from Droeshout’s and Marshall's copies of it, in which the inanimate part of the composition may be safely followed. The mere outline in half of the plate that accompanies the finished one, will serve to ascertain how far these supplements have been adopted. To such scrupulous fidelity the publick (which has long been amused by inadequate or ideal likenesses of Shakspeare) has an undoubted claim ; and should any fine ladies and gentlemen of the present age be disgusted at the stiff garb of our author, they may readily turn their eyes aside, and feast them on the more easy and elegant suit of clothes provided for him by his modern tailors, Messieurs Zouft, Vertue, Houbraken, and the humble imitators of their supposititious drapery.
The dress that Shakspeare wears in this ancient picture, might have been a theatrical one ; as in the course of observation such another habit has not occurred. Marshall, when he engraved from the same portrait, materially altered its paraphernalia, and, perhaps, because he thought a stage garb did not stand fo characteristically before a volume of Poems as before a collection of Plays; and yet it must be confessed, that this change might have been intro. duced for no other reason than more effectually to discriminate his own production from that of his predecessor. On the same account also he might have reversed the figure.
N. B. The plates to be delivered in the order they are subscribed for ; and subscriptions received at Mr. Richardson's, where the original portrait (by permission of Samuel Felton, Esq.) will be exhibited for the inspection of subscribers, together with the earlier engravings from it by Droeshout in 1623, and Marshall in 1640.
Castle Street, Leicester Square,
' It is common for an artist who engraves from a painting that has been already engraved, to place the work of his predecessor before him, that he may either catch some hints from it, or learn to avoid its errors. Marshall most certainly did so in the present instance; but while he corrected Droethout's ruff, he has been led by him to desert 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 first shown in Castle Street, the few remaining advocates for the Chandofan canvas observed, that its unwelcome rival exhibited not a single trait of Shakspeare. But, all on a sudden, these criticks have Thifted their ground; and the representation originally pronounced to have been so unlike our author, is since declared to be an immediate copy from the print by Martin Droeshout.
But by what means are fuch direct contrarieties of opinion to be reconciled ? If no vestige of the Poet's features was discernible in the Picture, how is it proved to be a copy from an engraving by which alone those features can be ascertained ? No man will assert 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 second 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 such a delicate and Vol. I.
finished Portrait, could most certainly have made an exact copy from a very coarse print, provided he had not disdained fo servile an occupation. On the contrary, a rude engraver like Droeshout, would necessarily have failed in his attempt to express the gentler graces of so delicate a picture. Our ancient handlers of the burin were often faithless to the character of their originals; and it is conceived that some other performances by Droeshout will furnish no exception to this remark.
Such defective imitations, however, even at this period, are sufficiently common. Several prints from well-known portraits of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Mr. Romney, are rendered worthless by similar infidelities; for notwithstanding these mezzotints preserve the outlines and general effect of their originals, the appropriate characters of them are as entirely lost as that of Shakspeare under the hand of Droeshout.-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 Droeshout's plate had been followed by the painter, the line in front of the ruff would have been incurvated, and not have appeared straight, as it is in the smaller print by Marshall from the same picture. In antiquated English portraits, examples of rectilineal ruffs are familiar, but where will be found such another as the German has placed under the chin of his metamorphosed poet ? From its pointed corners, resembling the wings of a bat, which are constant indications of mischievous agency, the engraver's ruff would have accorded better with the pursuits of his necromantick countryman, the celebrated Doctor Fauftus.