A newly discovered painting was unveiled in England today claiming to be the only “living” portrait of William Shakespeare. All images of the man we all know as “the Bard” are said to be post death portraits and sculptures painted after 1616.
Incredibly, the portrait has been in private hands for several centuries but the owners – the Cobbe family – had no idea the man in the painting was Shakespeare. It wasn’t until one of the Cobbe family walked into the National Portrait Gallery in London’s Trafalgar Square to see a traveling exhibit called “Searching for Shakespeare” that they realized what they had.
The Cobbe collection curator, Mark Broch, spent three years researching the painting, and several sophisticated tests, including X-ray examinations, tree-ring dating on the wooden frame, and infrared imaging, were made to determine its age.
The Cobbe portrait will be put on public display at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-on-Avon from April 23 until Sept. 6. After that, it is expected to be returned to the family’s collection.