Page last updated at 15:50 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:50 UK

Portrait of Shakespeare unveiled

The Cobbe portrait
The portrait of Shakespeare has attracted attention

A portrait of William Shakespeare thought to be the only picture made of him during his lifetime has been unveiled in Warwickshire.

The painting is on show at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, to celebrate the playwright's birthday on 23 April.

The trust said it was convinced the artwork, thought to date back to 1610, was an authentic portrait.

But some critics have gone on record to say the picture is not of Shakespeare.

The painting, known as the Cobbe portrait, was inherited by art restorer Alec Cobbe and authenticated in March.

'Clearly the original'

Professor Stanley Wells, from the trust, said he was convinced the painting was genuine.

"The painting's been tucked away in a private collection and I don't think anyone quite realised what it was," he said.

"We've got lots of evidence it's Shakespeare and although it isn't formal evidence, we have plenty of circumstantial evidence to say it is him."

Experts generally agree the most accurate depictions of the playwright are a bust originally put up in a Stratford-upon-Avon church and an engraving made for the title page of the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays.

Both are believed to be accurate as they were created or commissioned shortly after his death in 1616 by people who had met him.

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Professor Stanley Wells said there is lots of circumstantial evidence



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