Listen here to the extraordinary talk by Charles Nicholl on Shakespeare’s portraits. Given as the Rose Theatre Birthday Lecture on April 21, 2016, the talk is entitled ‘Counterfeit Presentments: Portraits of Shakespeare and the messages they send’. Starting off with a discussion on ‘Counterfeit Presentments’ from Hamlet, Charles Nicholl surveys contemporary portraits to see how poets were presented, what kind of ‘masks’ they wore. Returning to Shakespeare, he poses the question about the original painting from which the famous Droeshout engraving was based on, before considering other portrayals like the Flower and Chandos portrait as well as the funeral bust. Nicholl ends with a startling reveal about the uncanny and mysterious phantom image found underneath Michael Drayton’s portrait. See below for the all the images he discusses in his talk.
Charles Nicholl is the author of numerous Elizabethan studies, including The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, which won the James Tait Black Prize for biography, and The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street. He has also written an acclaimed biography of Leonardo da Vinci, and an account of Arthur Rimbaud’s years in Africa, Somebody Else, which was awarded the Hawthornden Prize. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and is currently Honorary Professor of English at Sussex University.