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NOTE ON THE FRONTISPIECE
This portrait, which is painted on a panel of elm, bears the inscription Willm Shakespeare, 1609,' in the upper left-hand corner. Nothing is known of its history beyond the fact that about 1840 it was purchased from an obscure dealer by Mr. H. C. Clements, a private gentleman, who believed it to be the original from which the authentic “ Droeshout engraving' (the frontispiece of vol. i.) was produced. On Mr. Clements’ death in 1895 the painting was purchased by Mrs. Charles Flower and by her presented to the Trustees of Shakespeare's Birthplace, with whose permission it is here reproduced. “Connoisseurs, including Mr. Sidney Colvin of the British Museum, and Mr. Lionel Cust, have almost unreservedly pronounced the picture to be anterior in date to the engraving, and they have reached the conclusion that in all probability Martin Droeshout directly based his work upon the painting. Influences of an early seventeenthcentury Flemish school are plainly discernible in the picture, and it is just possible that it is the production of an uncle of the young engraver Martin Droeshout, who bore the same name as his nephew, and was naturalised in this country on January 25, 1608, when he was described as a “painter of Brabant.” Although the history of the portrait rests on critical conjecture and on no external contemporary evidence, there seems good ground for regarding it as a portrait of Shakespeare painted in his lifetime—in the forty-fifth year of his age. No other pictorial representation of the poet has equally serious claims to be treated as contemporary with himself, and it therefore presents features of unique interest.'
MR. SIDNEY LEE's 'LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE.'