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ID number:  BIRRC-A0452
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Title / Object name:  Portrait of William Shakespeare with the arms of John Shakespeare
Object type:  Painting
Culture:  English School
Date made:  18th century
Materials:  Oil on canvas, carved oak frame
Measurements:  53.3 x 53.3 cm

Head and shoulders oil portrait of William Shakespeare, with coat of arms in top left corner.

Notes:  This painting closely resembles the famous Chandos Portrait in the National Portrait Gallery. Though portrayed in similar attire, The Bard appears younger here than in the Chandos Portrait. There is an intimate quality to this painting, Shakespeare being depicted in a pensive moment, thoughtfully gazing into the distance.

The shield in the top-left of the painting is that of John Shakespeare, father of William Shakespeare. Social mobility was growing, and John was aware of the symbolic prestige and respectability that came with having a coat of arms. He applied to the College of Heraldry and was granted a coat of arms in 1596. Upon his father’s death in 1601, William continued to use the coat of arms and had the right to assert himself as a gentleman.

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