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William Shakespeare

(1564-1616), Dramatist and poet

Sitter associated with 96 portraits
Born in Stratford-upon-Avon and the most celebrated English playwright and poet, Shakespeare is regarded as one of the greatest writers of all time. Whereas many poets of the period were wealthy amateurs, dramatists were usually professionals whose income came from supplying plays for the public theatres and court. Shakespeare worked as both an actor and playwright, and during his lifetime plays were usually regarded as texts belonging to the theatres for which they were written. However, the publication of Ben Jonson's Workes in 1616, and in 1623 his own Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, Tragedies (the 'First Folio'), were milestones in the recognition of plays as lasting, influential works of literature.

Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below

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William Shakespeare, associated with John Taylor - NPG 1

William Shakespeare

associated with John Taylor
oil on canvas, feigned oval, circa 1600-1610
On display in Room 04 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG 1

William Shakespeare, after Gerard Johnson - NPG 1281

William Shakespeare

after Gerard Johnson
coloured plaster cast, 1846, based on a work of circa 1620
NPG 1281

William Shakespeare, after Gerard Johnson - NPG 1735

William Shakespeare

after Gerard Johnson
plaster cast, early 20th century, from a mid 19th century mould of a work of circa 1620
NPG 1735

William Shakespeare, after Gerard Johnson - NPG 185a

William Shakespeare

after Gerard Johnson
plaster cast of copy of head of effigy at Stratford-upon-Avon, 19th century, based on a work of circa 1620
NPG 185a

William Shakespeare, by Martin Droeshout - NPG 185

William Shakespeare

by Martin Droeshout
engraving, 1632 or 1663-1664
NPG 185

William Shakespeare, after John Faed - NPG Ax39783

William Shakespeare

after John Faed
albumen carte-de-visite, 1864 or before
NPG Ax39783

William Shakespeare, after a painting attributed to John Taylor - NPG D41643

William Shakespeare

after a painting attributed to John Taylor
chromolithograph, (circa 1610)
NPG D41643

Unknown gentleman, possibly Sir Thomas Overbury, previously known as William Shakespeare, by Richard Earlom, after  Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist - NPG D4207

Unknown gentleman, possibly Sir Thomas Overbury, previously known as William Shakespeare

by Richard Earlom, after Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist
mezzotint, (circa 1610)
NPG D4207

William Shakespeare, after Gerard Johnson - NPG D41659

William Shakespeare

after Gerard Johnson
stipple engraving, (circa 1620)
NPG D41659

William Shakespeare, after Gerard Johnson - NPG D41660

William Shakespeare

after Gerard Johnson
hand-coloured lithograph, (circa 1620)
NPG D41660

William Shakespeare, by Unknown artist, after  Martin Droeshout - NPG D40738

William Shakespeare

by Unknown artist, after Martin Droeshout
lithograph, (1623)
NPG D40738

William Shakespeare, by Martin Droeshout, printed by  Thomas Cotes, printed for  Robert Allot - NPG D16530

William Shakespeare

by Martin Droeshout, printed by Thomas Cotes, printed for Robert Allot
line engraving, 1632
NPG D16530

William Shakespeare, by Martin Droeshout - NPG D27947

William Shakespeare

by Martin Droeshout
line engraving, 1685
NPG D27947

William Shakespeare, by John Simon, after  Gilbert Soest - NPG D27948

William Shakespeare

by John Simon, after Gilbert Soest
mezzotint, early 18th century
NPG D27948

Monument to William Shakespeare in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, by George Vertue, after  Gerard Johnson - NPG D21013

Monument to William Shakespeare in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon

by George Vertue, after Gerard Johnson
line engraving, circa 1700-1750 (circa 1620)
NPG D21013

William Shakespeare, after Unknown artist - NPG D5944

William Shakespeare

after Unknown artist
stipple and line engraving, mid-late 18th century
NPG D5944

William Shakespeare, by Michael Vandergucht - NPG D25484

William Shakespeare

by Michael Vandergucht
line engraving, 1709
NPG D25484

William Shakespeare, by and sold by George Vertue - NPG D25488

William Shakespeare

by and sold by George Vertue
line engraving, 1719
NPG D25488

William Shakespeare, by George Vertue - NPG D25489

William Shakespeare

by George Vertue
line engraving, 1719
NPG D25489

William Shakespeare, by and sold by George Vertue - NPG D41637

William Shakespeare

by and sold by George Vertue
line engraving, 1719
NPG D41637

William Shakespeare, by and sold by George Vertue - NPG D11109

William Shakespeare

by and sold by George Vertue
line engraving, 1719
NPG D11109

William Shakespeare, by Gerard Vandergucht - NPG D25485

William Shakespeare

by Gerard Vandergucht
line engraving, probably mid 18th century
NPG D25485

William Shakespeare, after Unknown artist - NPG D5945

William Shakespeare

after Unknown artist
line engraving, mid to late 18th century
NPG D5945

Memorial to William Shakespeare for poets' corner in Westminster Abbey, after Hubert-François Gravelot (né Bourguignon), after  Peter Scheemakers - NPG D41656

Memorial to William Shakespeare for poets' corner in Westminster Abbey

after Hubert-François Gravelot (né Bourguignon), after Peter Scheemakers
etching, 1741
NPG D41656

William Shakespeare, by Jacobus Houbraken - NPG D25480

William Shakespeare

by Jacobus Houbraken
line engraving, 1747
NPG D25480

William Shakespeare, by Jacobus Houbraken, published by  John & Paul Knapton - NPG D41636

William Shakespeare

by Jacobus Houbraken, published by John & Paul Knapton
line engraving, 1747
NPG D41636

William Shakespeare, possibly by Henry Brocas the Elder - NPG D25486

William Shakespeare

possibly by Henry Brocas the Elder
stipple engraving, late 18th to early 19th century
NPG D25486

David Garrick; William Shakespeare, by J. Miller - NPG D20571

David Garrick; William Shakespeare

by J. Miller
stipple engraving, late 18th century
NPG D20571

William Shakespeare, by John Hall, probably after  John Taylor - NPG D32488

William Shakespeare

by John Hall, probably after John Taylor
line engraving, published 1785
NPG D32488

William Shakespeare, by John Goldar, probably after  John Taylor - NPG D20572

William Shakespeare

by John Goldar, probably after John Taylor
line engraving, published 1785
NPG D20572

William Shakespeare, by Jean Marie Delattre - NPG D41651

William Shakespeare

by Jean Marie Delattre
line engraving, published 1786
NPG D41651

William Shakespeare, by Robert Cooper, after a painting attributed to  John Taylor - NPG D40742

William Shakespeare

by Robert Cooper, after a painting attributed to John Taylor
stipple engraving, 1864 or before (circa 1610)
NPG D40742

William Shakespeare, by John Godefroy, published by  William Richardson - NPG D41638

William Shakespeare

by John Godefroy, published by William Richardson
line engraving, published 28 March 1796
NPG D41638

'William Shakespeare between the Dramatic Muse and the Genius of Painting', by Benjamin Smith, published by  John Boydell, published by  Josiah Boydell, after  Thomas Banks - NPG D41655

'William Shakespeare between the Dramatic Muse and the Genius of Painting'

by Benjamin Smith, published by John Boydell, published by Josiah Boydell, after Thomas Banks
stipple engraving, published 4 June 1796 (1789)
NPG D41655

William Shakespeare, by Unknown artist - NPG D7217

William Shakespeare

by Unknown artist
electrotype, 19th century
NPG D7217

William Shakespeare, published by William Smith, after  Martin Droeshout - NPG D40737

William Shakespeare

published by William Smith, after Martin Droeshout
line engraving, early 19th century
NPG D40737

William Shakespeare, after Unknown artist - NPG D41645

William Shakespeare

after Unknown artist
albumen print, possibly 19th century
NPG D41645

William Shakespeare, by William Holl Sr, published by  Vernor, Hood & Sharpe - NPG D41652

William Shakespeare

by William Holl Sr, published by Vernor, Hood & Sharpe
stipple engraving, early 19th century
NPG D41652

William Shakespeare, by Unknown artist - NPG D41654

William Shakespeare

by Unknown artist
stipple engraving, 19th century
NPG D41654

William Shakespeare, by Charles Warren - NPG D25487

William Shakespeare

by Charles Warren
line engraving, 1806
NPG D25487

Memorial portrait of William Shakespeare, by Thomas Woolnoth, published by  Mary Jane Godwin, after  Gilbert Soest - NPG D21646

Memorial portrait of William Shakespeare

by Thomas Woolnoth, published by Mary Jane Godwin, after Gilbert Soest
stipple engraving, published 1 November 1809 (circa 1605-1681)
NPG D21646

William Shakespeare, by Robert Cooper, published by  Machell Stace - NPG D40743

William Shakespeare

by Robert Cooper, published by Machell Stace
stipple engraving printed in colour, published 1 January 1811
NPG D40743

William Shakespeare, by Robert Cooper - NPG D18819

William Shakespeare

by Robert Cooper
stipple engraving printed in colour, published 1811
NPG D18819

William Shakespeare, by Charles Turner, published by  James Dunford - NPG D41642

William Shakespeare

by Charles Turner, published by James Dunford
mezzotint, published 22 May 1815
NPG D41642

William Shakespeare, by James Godby, published and sold by  Edward Orme, after  Giovanni Battista Cipriani - NPG D41646

William Shakespeare

by James Godby, published and sold by Edward Orme, after Giovanni Battista Cipriani
stipple engraving, published 4 June 1815
NPG D41646

William Shakespeare, by William Ward, printed by  Lahee & Co, published by  John Britton, after  Thomas Phillips, after  George Bullock, after  Gerard Johnson - NPG D41657

William Shakespeare

by William Ward, printed by Lahee & Co, published by John Britton, after Thomas Phillips, after George Bullock, after Gerard Johnson
mezzotint, published 23 April 1816 (circa 1620)
NPG D41657

William Shakespeare, by William Ward, printed by  Lahee & Co, published by  John Britton, after  Thomas Phillips, after  George Bullock, after  Gerard Johnson - NPG D41658

William Shakespeare

by William Ward, printed by Lahee & Co, published by John Britton, after Thomas Phillips, after George Bullock, after Gerard Johnson
mezzotint, published 23 April 1816 (circa 1620)
NPG D41658

William Shakespeare, by William Ward, published by  John Britton, after  Thomas Phillips, after  George Bullock, after  Gerard Johnson - NPG D42286

William Shakespeare

by William Ward, published by John Britton, after Thomas Phillips, after George Bullock, after Gerard Johnson
mezzotint, published 23 April 1816 (circa 1620)
NPG D42286

William Shakespeare, after Unknown English artist - NPG D41639

William Shakespeare

after Unknown English artist
offset lithograph, (circa 1820-1840)
NPG D41639

William Shakespeare, after Unknown English artist - NPG D41640

William Shakespeare

after Unknown English artist
photograph, (circa 1820-1840)
NPG D41640

William Shakespeare, by James Heath, published by  Jones & Co, probably after  John Taylor - NPG D4071

William Shakespeare

by James Heath, published by Jones & Co, probably after John Taylor
stipple engraving, published 1822
NPG D4071

Unknown gentleman, possibly Sir Thomas Overbury, previously known as William Shakespeare, by Robert Cooper, published by  Sherwood, Jones & Co, after  Richard Earlom, after  Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist - NPG D41649

Unknown gentleman, possibly Sir Thomas Overbury, previously known as William Shakespeare

by Robert Cooper, published by Sherwood, Jones & Co, after Richard Earlom, after Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist
mezzotint, published June 1825
NPG D41649

William Shakespeare with Lucretia and Collatinus, by Richard Sawyer, after  William Faithorne - NPG D22940

William Shakespeare with Lucretia and Collatinus

by Richard Sawyer, after William Faithorne
line engraving, published 1827 (1655)
NPG D22940

William Shakespeare, by Benjamin Holl, published by  Abraham Wivell, after  Laurence Hilliard - NPG D25481

William Shakespeare

by Benjamin Holl, published by Abraham Wivell, after Laurence Hilliard
stipple engraving, published 1827 (circa 1620)
NPG D25481

Media

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