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wadlow IN aMERICA

Hear Stephen Wadlow being interviewed about the Wadlow Portrait by Cassidy Cash. 

Did the wadlow portrait influence this portrait of shakespeare?


We recently came across this interesting portrait of Shakespeare painted by Ford Madox Brown in 1849. In his diary he says he painted it because there was no agreement about what Shakespeare really looked like. So he created it as an amalgamation of several other portraits of Shakespeare, with the face based mainly on the memorial to Shakespeare in St Michael's church Stratford upon Avon. 

In the portrait Shakespeare is shown surrounded by books and objects that inspired his work. But it isn't the face or the background objects that are interesting when we think about the Wadlow portrait, it is the clothes and hair.

The collar of the 1849 portrait is not found on any known portrait of Shakespeare at that time. Also the slashed tunic revealing red cloth beneath it is not seen on any known portrait of Shakespeare, yet both are strikingly similar to the Wadlow portrait. The colour of the hair is also the same as the Wadlow. A description of Shakespeare's hair on the original memorial bust in Stratford (before it was repainted) describes it as auburn. The Chandos and the Cobbe both have dark hair. The curls above the ear are also very similar.


The sketch of Shakespeare by Ford Madox Brown drawn a few years later seen below, shows a pattern in between the red slashes. They are similar to the pattern between the slashes on the tunic of the Wadlow portrait. The row of buttons on the tunic are also strikingly similar. 

Hamilton Kerr Photo crop_edited.jpg

In this other portrait of Shakespeare by Ford Madox Brown shown below, there is a striking similarity between the fake overpainted coat of arms on the top right of the Wadlow portrait and Shakespeare's coat of arms at the top left of the Ford Madox Brown portrait. Traditionally mustard coloured, here Shakespeare's coat of arms is mainly red, as is the fake coat of arms on the Wadlow. Both also have a diagonal.

madox brown and wadlow 2.jpg

With so many similarities between Ford Madox Brown's portraits of Shakespeare and the Wadlow, we are continuing our research into this portrait to see if Ford Madox Brown was aware of the Wadlow portrait and used it as inspiration for his portraits. 

Shakespeare by peake

peake shakespeare.png

In 2019 Steven Wadlow was contacted by a team researching what they believed to be a portrait of Shakespeare painted during his lifetime. The reason they contacted Steven is that they had seen his painting and his research which mentioned the possibility that the Wadlow portrait was painted by Robert Peake. They knew that their portrait was painted by Peake but perhaps more importantly they believed that their painting, painted in 1608 and the Wadlow portrayed a slightly older portrayal of the same man.

     So if one is Shakespeare then both are Shakespeare. 

In 2022 the portrait of painted by Peake hit the front pages of the press when it was offered for sale for £10 million. Click link below for more. 

coming soon

The Wadlow portrait is going to university.

UCL have agreed to examine the painting using the latest cutting edge technology. We are hoping to be able to see beneath the underpainting and find out whether the lettering at the top is original or added latter. There is  the number 31 at the top and in 1595 Shakespeare would have been 31. We also hope to get more detail about the hidden coat of arms. We will post the results once we have them.

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