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William Shakespeare

1 of 23 portraits by Martin Droeshout

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William Shakespeare

by Martin Droeshout
engraving, 1632 or 1663-1664
7 1/2 in. x 6 1/4 in. (191 mm x 159 mm)
Purchased, 1864
Primary Collection
NPG 185

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Martin Droeshout (1601-1650?), Engraver. Artist or producer associated with 23 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This posthumous engraved portrait was first produced for the title page of the first complete publication of Shakespeare's plays in 1623, known as the First Folio (1623). The engraving was perhaps based on an existing portrait which has not been identified. This version of the engraving dates from the second or third editions of the plays in either 1632 or 1663-4.

Related worksback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Writers, p. 9
  • Bolland, Charlotte, The Tudors Passion, Power and Politics, 2022, p. 152
  • Charles Nicholl, Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, 2015, p. 4
  • Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 45 Read entry

    The First Folio of Shakespeare's plays, the first published edition, appeared in 1623 with an engraving by Martin Droeshout. This image, presumably commissioned by the editors and sanctioned by Ben Jonson, has always carried authority as an authentic likeness of Shakespeare. It appeared in four 'states': the first, or proof, state and second state for the First Folio; the third state for the Second and Third Folios of 1632 and 1664; and the fourth state for the Fourth Folio of 1685. Its status and clarity of line have led to numerous reproductions and imaginative adaptations.

  • Edwards, Paul, Wyndham Lewis Portraits, 2008 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 3 July to 19 October 2008), p. 14
  • Nicholl, Charles, Character Sketches: Elizabethan Writers, 1997, p. 6
  • Nicholl, Charles, Insights: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, 2005, p. 6
  • Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 59
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 558
  • Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 283

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1632back to top

Current affairs

The death of diplomat Dudley Carleton, Viscount Dorchester, who favoured military action against Spain rather than a peace deal, allows the peace party at court to assert itself during Charles I's period of personal rule.
Charles I revives medieval forest laws to raise income.

Art and science

Poet and courtier, Endymion Porter, is instrumental in bringing Dutch artist, Anthony Van Dyck, to England. Months after his arrival, Van Dyck is appointed court painter by Charles I and given a knighthood.
The Second Folio of William Shakespeare's plays is published.


Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, is made lord deputy of Ireland. His efficient governance and vigorous administration quickly returns considerable sums of money to England.
Charles I issues a charter for the colony of Maryland which would became a haven for Catholics in the New World.

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