Can you give Shakespeare's portrait a new home? - The Leamington Observer

Can you give Shakespeare's portrait a new home?

Leamington Editorial 19th May, 2023   0

A PAINTING of Shakespeare commissioned to mark his 400th anniversary is looking for a new home.

Professional artist Geoffrey Tristram was commissioned back in 2015 by Stratford District and Town Council’s to create a painting to mark the Bard’s 400th birthday.

He was asked to create a simple front view of William Shakespeare’s face to advertise the anniversary celebrations in 2016.

And having successfully completed this small commission, Geoffrey, from Stourbridge, confessed that as a lifelong Shakespeare fan his dream job was to paint a brand new oil painting of the playwright.

The idea was well received by both councils and just before Christmas 2015 the larger oil painting was begun.

Geoffrey knew full well that such a picture would bring with it a massive responsibility, and he was in no doubt that it would attract criticism, both good and bad. It didn’t help that, for such a world-famous person as Shakespeare, there were so few images of him and so little reliable reference material to fall back on.

Undaunted Geoffrey dug out copies of every existing painting, etching, wood cut, bust and statue that he could find claiming to be of the playwright. They may as well have been ten different people, said Geoffrey.

His eureka moment came however when he sketched the familiar bald pate, moustache and beard combination onto a sheet of tracing paper and began to overlay on top of it the various depictions of Shakespeare. It was at this point Geoffrey realised all the possible contenders were not so dissimilar and had begun to resemble each other.

Geoffrey was allowed to keep the painting for his own as the deal was to share the proceeds of the fine art prints made from it instead.

But now, several years later, Geoffrey feels it could find a better home.

He told the Observer: “I now feel the time is right to let the picture go, maybe to a nice venue where it can be seen by the public, or if not, to a private buyer. It deserves to be somewhere better than my bedroom wall.

“It is, as far as I know, the only Stratford-approved 400th anniversary portrait in the world.”

The portrait took around ten weeks to paint and was set at Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Henley Street. It is four feet tall and has an Elizabethan-style frame with an inscription around the inner frame of a quote from Cymbeline.

Auctioneer Will Farmer estimated it could be worth around £15,000.

Geoffrey said he may consider selling the painting at auction but wanted to offer it to the people of Stratford first.

Anyone interested in finding out more or making an offer can email Geoffrey at [email protected]

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