In 1856 the newly founded National Portrait Gallery in London was presented with a compelling painting of Shakespeare kwn as the Chandos portrait. Yet, 150 years later, few scholars agree that a true contemporary portrait of the most famous playwright in the history of English literature actually exists. Using the questionable authenticity of this portrait as its starting point, this unique and fascinating book examines the connections between theatrical performance and Shakespeare's references in the visual arts.Featuring numerous portraits and images of costumes, theater models, manuscripts, and maps, Searching for Shakespeare looks at the artist's overall biography and life's work. Portraits of Shakespeare's contemporaries are also included--fellow actors, entertainers, and playwrights as well as his patrons. Insightful essays by distinguished scholars discuss a range of themes, from Shakespeare's sonnets, fame, and professional connections to his relationships with his actors, dramatists, and courtly and public audiences. They also reveal interesting background on the provenance and scholarship surrounding the Chandos portrait, which has been copied, purloined, and reproduced since it was first linked with Shakespeare at the beginning of the eighteenth century.For anyone interested in Shakespeare, the mystery surrounding his identity, and the performing and visual arts of the Elizabethan period, this is an essential book to own.
Tarnya Cooper is Sixteenth-Century Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Stanley Wells is Chairman of the Trustees of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Emeritus Professor on Shakespeare Studies at Birmingham University. James Shapiro is Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare. Marcia Pointon is Professor Emerita at the University of Manchester, Visiting Professor, Birbek College, University of London, and Hon. Research Fellow, Courtauld Institute.