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William Shakespeare

14 of 104 portraits of William Shakespeare

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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William Shakespeare

by Martin Droeshout
line engraving, 1685
7 3/4 in. x 6 1/2 in. (197 mm x 166 mm) plate size; 12 3/8 in. x 6 7/8 in. (313 mm x 175 mm) paper size
Given by the daughter of compiler William Fleming MD, Mary Elizabeth Stopford (née Fleming), 1931
Reference Collection
NPG D27947

On display in Room 16 at the National Portrait Gallery

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This portrait of Shakespeare is based on the image that appeared as the frontispiece to the First Folio of 1623, which was the first collected edition of his plays. Although it was made several years after his death, it was praised by Shakespeare’s friend Ben Johnson for its accuracy. Later appropriated by William Blake and Pablo Picasso, it continues to be the image most often used in published editions of Shakespeare's works, and is probably the most universally recognisable portrait of Shakespeare around the world.

Events of 1685back to top

Current affairs

Charles II dies, his heir, Catholic brother, James II, succeeds to the throne. Despite deep distrust by many Protestants, he initially experiences unexpected popularity.
James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, leads the Monmouth Rebellion ambitious to seize the throne. Following his defeat at Sedgemoor, Monmouth is executed at Tower Hill.

Art and science

Opera Universa, by physician Thomas Sydenham, considered the father of English medicine, is published in London.
Organist, Henry Purcell composes, My heart is inditing, for the coronation of James II and his queen, Mary of Modena.
Writer on dentistry, Charles Allen publishes the earliest known English book on dentistry.

International

The Edict of Fontainebleau is issued by Louis XIV revoking the Edict of Nantes which gave Huguenots a right to practice their religion, free from persecution. Although Huguenots had steadily left France since the Dragonnades in 1681, this edict essentially ended official religious toleration in France.

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