Only one Shakespeare painting made in his lifetime is said to sell for £10 million | William Shakespeare

A photo that is said to be the only signed and dated photo of William Shakespeare Created during his lifetime it is for sale for over £10 million and is on display in London.

The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, is offering the lot for sale under a private agreement without auction.

It is the work of Robert Beck, Court painter to King James Isigned and dated 1608. The artwork was on display on Wednesday at the Grosvenor House Hotel in west London.

Before 1975, the picture hung in the library of a stately home in the north of England, which was once home to the Danby family. Since then it has been in private ownership.

Those behind its sale claim that the connections between Shakespeare and Peck are “extensive” and that the artist was regularly commissioned to paint portraits of high-ranking members of the Jacobite court and society.

They also indicated that it had been commissioned before Revels officewho oversaw the staging of the plays, and worked in the building in Clerkenwell, London, where some of Shakespeare’s plays were rehearsed.

However, there are only two paintings by Shakespeare, both posthumously, that are generally recognized as properly depicting him – the etching that appears on the title page of the First Folio, published in 1623, and the carving at his funeral monument in Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare died in 1616 at the age of 52.

An engraving of William Shakespeare as it appears in file one dating from 1623, as offered at Christie's auction house in London, in January 2020.
An engraving of William Shakespeare as it appears in file one dating from 1623, as offered at Christie’s auction house in London, in January 2020. Photo: Andy Raine/EPA

Art expert Duncan Phillips, who investigated the work before the sale, said: “There is more evidence of this painting of Shakespeare than of any other known painting by the playwright.

It is an initialed and dated work of a portrait painter of serious standing with connections to the artist who produced the portrait for the first file.

“The picture has survived nearly 400 years untouched by the wear and tear of its ownership by a family of Shakespeare lovers who hung it in their library.”

However, Shakespeare expert Michael Dobson told the Daily Mail that suggestions that the painting is from the poet are “wishful thinking”.

There have been many claims and counterclaims about the legality of the playwright’s paintings in previous years.

In 2015, botanist and historian Mark Griffiths said he unearthed what he believes is the only original portrait of Shakespeare he made in his lifetime.

He argued that an inscription on the title page of a 400-year-old book, The Herball or Generall History of Plantes, contained four identifiable characters—one of whom was the 33-year-old Bard.

Frontispiece to The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes by John Gerard, 1597.
Frontispiece to The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes by John Gerard, 1597. Photo: Eileen Tweedy/Shutterstock

In 2009, a photo exhibited in Stratford-upon-Avon was at the center of controversy.

Sir Roy Strong, former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, said suggestions that the painting was by Shakespeare was “codswallop”.

The organizers of the Shakespeare Found exhibition insisted at the time that the painting was England’s greatest literary hero.

In 2005, experts at the National Portrait Gallery in London concluded that The Flower Portrait was a forgery dating back to the early 19th century.

Historians have disagreed about the origins of the poet’s painting bearing the 1609 inscription.

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