A painting of William Shakespeare has recently been found in Newbridge House, a manor outside Dublin that belonged to the Cobbe family. Amazingly, they did not know that the portrait was of Shakespeare until a family member saw a copy on exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery in London. Experts now say that it’s the only portrait of Shakespeare painted during his lifetime, around 1610 when he was 46. But here’s the fine print, according to the curator of the Folger Library, which owns the copy: while the Cobbe painting is undoubtedly the original of the Folger one, there’s no way of telling “for certain” that Shakespeare himself sat for the painting.
See “John Donne in the News”, at the bottom of this page, for a similar story about a painting by John Donne found at Newbattle Abbey. One of the reasons the Donne painting is so valuable is that it is one of the few authenticated portraits of an Elizabethan writer.