“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Shakespeare Restored or Ruined?

Portrait prior to restoration

Restoration or defacement? Shakespeare after restoration artists did their deed. 

The traditional image of Shakespeare was as a bald, chubby-faced man. No longer. This newly restored portrait of the playwright, refereed to as the Cobbe painting, was painted in 1610, six year's before Shakespeare's death.

At one time the Cobbe painting was thought to be of Sir Walter Raleigh, but is now claimed to be the most accurate likeness of Shakespeare, and was painted when Shakespeare was 46.

Others believe it is of Sir Thomas Ovebury (1581-1613) an English poet and essayist. (Overbury was sent to the Tower of London by James I after refusing to become ambassador to the court of Michael of Russia. After a short period in the Tower he died of poisoning in 1613.)

Now, it seems as if there is further controversy about the restoration itself:


How restorers ruined the last portrait of Shakespeare
By Arifa Akbar, Arts correspondent Independent
Saturday, 28 March 2009

When art conservators joined hands to restore two rare portraits of Shakespeare they thought they were removing paint daubed on the canvases more than 100 years after the Bard's death to reveal "authentic" portraits beneath.

Now it has emerged they were, in fact, wiping away priceless insights into the changing appearance of Britain's greatest playwright.

The images which had been superimposed on both paintings had actually been painted in Shakespeare's own lifetime, the Art Newspaper will reveal next week, and showed how he looked as he aged. The so-called "restoration" could now go down in art history as one of the biggest blunders on record.

A newly discovered picture of Shakespeare called the Cobbe portrait (painted when he was still living) and another version called the Folger portrait were both irreversibly "cleaned up" in this way.

New research has revealed both portraits were probably altered during Shakespeare's lifetime, or within a decade or so of his death in 1616, while his friends and associates were still alive. In the Cobbe portrait, the sitter was given a bouffant hairstyle, whereas in the Folger portrait, his hair at the front was replaced by a bald forehead.

But why the changes? The Cobbe work is believed to have been painted for the Earl of Southampton. The Shakespeare expert Stanley Wells suggests the Bard had dedicated his erotic sonnets to him. It is possible the Earl may have wanted a more flattering image.

The Folger portrait, on the other hand, may have been altered to reflect Shakespeare's appearance at the time of his death, six years after the original painting. The original represented Shakespeare aged 46.

Rupert Featherstone, director of the Hamilton Kerr Institute in Cambridge, which undertook technical investigations into the Cobbe portrait, admitted that in hindsight, it was unfortunate conservators had removed the overpaint. "We can no longer peer down a microscope to look at the physical evidence of the overpaint," he said. When the overpaint was removed from the two portraits, in 1988 and 2002, it was not thought that either depicted Shakespeare. Some critics doubted that the Bard sat for either portrait.

The Cobbe portrait was restored in 2002 as part of ongoing conservation work of the Cobbe family's pictures. It was then thought that it depicted an unknown sitter by an anonymous artist. The conservation work was undertaken by Mr Cobbe, who is a professional restorer. Research now shows the Cobbe painting is an original portrait completed in Shakespeare's lifetime, and that the Folger picture is an early copy, painted in 1610 when the playwright was still alive.

Mr Cobbe now believes his portrait may have had the hair repainted as early as a few months after the original work had been completed in 1610.

The Folger painting, which was conserved in 1988, is in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington. It was acquired in 1932 as an image of Shakespeare, but later downgraded to an anonymous portrait.


  1. It's odd isn't it. You'd think the original painter would have written on the back "This is Billy Shakspear, poet" or made some such notation of identification somewhere. But, he didn't have the reputation then he does now. And he was out of style for awhile, he wasn't always The Bard as we think of him today.

  2. Things base and vile, holding no quantity,

    Love can transpose to form and dignity.

    Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,

    And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

  3. Dan Cupid is a raw laddy buck
    He's not minding the architecture
    When having a fuck

  4. Cupids aim is not always "straight" but he still makes a lot of Mrs

  5. Wish we could White Out the exhibit @ the White House.

  6. Crack White House staff has a special meaning these days. In the White House things go better with Coke.

  7. I wonder if Barry is taking a snort once in a while.

    It would be interesting if someone got a photo of him doing a line in the White House.

    But would this Congress think it an impeachable offense?

  8. Only if he doesn't share

  9. Yeah, he said he wanted to spread stuff around.

  10. Spread stuff around. Those nations whom the gods would destroy, they first make socialists President.

  11. You got a concealed weapons permit for that gun?

    If so, you can put it away, and not point it at us all the time:)

  12. Chill out, think of green fields, and the sun breaking through the white rain clouds after a spring shower. :)

  13. Restored, or ruined?

    Ruined, I believe. The upper portrait is much better.


  14. Statement from Hillary Clinton in Mexico City: "You have a huge population of Mexicans here too huh?"

  15. Hillary's "Framework" is gonna make lil Kim toe the line.
    Just you wait.

  16. I did not know the du Toits retired from blogging.

    The Other Side of Kim

    Mrs. du Toit - Personal Effects

    Found out thanks to linear's Camp Carbine Mention, turns out it's Kim's fav for having at the ready.

  17. A Last Look at Updike and Cheever - Dick Cavett

    Dear reader, I’ll try to keep this to a reasonable length so you can savor the accompanying video.

    I loved reading the outpouring from you (and others) about the Cheever/Updike column. A large number asked, and some begged earnestly, to see the full show from which the clips were taken.

    I lobbied on your behalf and The Times has thoughtfully agreed to run the full show.

  18. No blue eyes there, either.

    Can't be Shakespeare, at all.

    The King knows who's who.

    But the King is dead, long live the King!

  19. That's not the Cobbe painting. This is the Cobbe painting:

  20. He Still Has the Slows

    Abraham Lincoln in exasperation once remarked about Civil War General George B. McClellan, "He's got the slows." The general was a brilliant army organizer, but when it came to fighting battles, he froze up, always grossly exaggerating the enemy before him.

    Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has the same problem. Last November he promised that the Fed would buy $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities. Four months later he still hadn't fulfilled that pledge. In January he made encouraging comments about an active Fed approach to stemming the credit crisis. Little happened. And now the Fed, in a blare of headlines, has promised to purchase more than $1 trillion in bonds and mortgage-backed securities to get the credit system working again. However, Bernanke, mirroring McClellan, shows no inclination to aggressively push liquidity into our crippled credit markets. In fact, since December the Fed has removed nearly $400 billion from the financial markets. Instead of attacking, General Bernanke has been retreating.

  21. Obama Wants US Energy Policy To Be Under UN Supervision

    April is Burn a UN Flag Month. UN flags are like Lay's potato chips, no one can burn just one! Better Cammie Green than Commie Red or UN Baby Blue!!

  22. North Korean rocket could reach Hawaii: US admiral

    No doubt if it strikes Pearl Harbor Uncle Bho and Clin Ton Hil will find that to be "counterproductive". A liberal is someone too broadminded to take a stand, too cowardly to fight and too fat to run.

  23. Now if it strikes his hometown in KENYA that's a whole nother ballgame.

  24. Denver Post: Obama gets list of top Muslim Americans

    He wanted to see where he ranked.

  25. Inspiration for our resident poets:
    Elvis poem fetches $20,000

    A short poem Elvis Presley wrote about a dead bird has sold at auction for a staggering $20,000.

    The King of Rock scrawled the rhyme on a piece of paper after apparently killing a robin that perched on his window ledge.

    The note, written on his own stationary, reads,

    “As I awoke this morning when all sweet things are born, a robin perched on my window sill to greet the coming dawn. He sang his sweet song so sweetly and paused for a moment’s lull, I gently raised the window and crushed his f**king skull”.

    The poem was part of an online sale of Elvis memorabilia, which closed on Thursday.
    Other items sold in the auction include a jumpsuit he wore at a concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which went for $212,588.40, and the typed lyrics for his song Young and Beautiful, which went under the hammer for $1,155.60.

  26. I wonder what grade Mullah Omar has given brother BHO for his efforts on behalf of the cause, so far?

  27. Doug: I wonder what grade Mullah Omar has given brother BHO for his efforts on behalf of the cause, so far?

    Obama received free campaign office from sharia finance fugitives wanted by FBI

  28. Allah si, Heysoos no

    Barack Hussein Obama’s 7th Circuit Court nominee David F. Hamilton (a former Clinton appointed judge) ruled that prayers in Jesus’ name at the Indiana House of Representatives were unconstitutional, but prayers to Allah were not.

  29. From My Michael Lewis link in last thread:

    "And short Eisman did—then he tried to get his mind around what he’d just done so he could do it better. He’d call over to a big firm and ask for a list of mortgage bonds from all over the country. The juiciest shorts—the bonds ultimately backed by the mortgages most likely to default—had several characteristics. They’d be in what Wall Street people were now calling the sand states: Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada. The loans would have been made by one of the more dubious mortgage lenders; Long Beach Financial, wholly owned by Washington Mutual, was a great example. Long Beach Financial was moving money out the door as fast as it could, few questions asked, in loans built to self-destruct. It specialized in asking home­owners with bad credit and no proof of income to put no money down and defer interest payments for as long as possible. In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000. "

  30. Appoint Mat detergent Czar of Spokane.

  31. ...he can tool around town checking drains in his battery powered penismobile.

  32. re: Mat's battery powered penis,

    The Harvard Crimson Arts Auto Art Defiling America's Deity

    This is about the creator of the Dickmobile, who we sold our farm to.

    Used to be easy to find photos of the mobile on the web, but I just wasted 30 minutes and found one tiny thumbnail.
    ...might have to check my analog archives!

  33. "Like most pieces of art, either driven or stationary, the new cars have provoked a great deal of discussion. Paige's phallic "Dickmobile" is perhaps the most controversial. Built on a 1954 Hillman Minx chassis, the head of "The Dickmobile" is 18 gauge steel stretched over a pencil wire frame, while the body of the car is molded fiberglass. The entire vehicle is painted in various shades of pink, except the purple exhaust columns that run along the sides, and the rear of the car that is painted a pubic hair black. The plush interior of the car is upholstered in tufted black naugahyde and has a rosewood dashboard and paneling... "

  34. "His dinner companion in Las Vegas ran a fund of about $15 billion and managed C.D.O.’s backed by the BBB tranche of a mortgage bond, or as Eisman puts it, “the equivalent of three levels of dog shit lower than the original bonds.”

    FrontPoint had spent a lot of time digging around in the dog shit and knew that the default rates were already sufficient to wipe out this guy’s entire portfolio. “God, you must be having a hard time,” Eisman told his dinner companion.

    “No,” the guy said, “I’ve sold everything out.”

    After taking a fee, he passed them on to other investors. His job was to be the C.D.O. “expert,” but he actually didn’t spend any time at all thinking about what was in the C.D.O.’s. “He managed the C.D.O.’s,” says Eisman, “but managed what? I was just appalled. People would pay up to have someone manage their C.D.O.’s—as if this moron was helping you.

    I thought, You prick, you don’t give a fuck about the investors in this thing.”"

  35. "That’s when Eisman finally got it. Here he’d been making these side bets with Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank on the fate of the BBB tranche without fully understanding why those firms were so eager to make the bets. Now he saw. There weren’t enough Americans with shitty credit taking out loans to satisfy investors’ appetite for the end product. The firms used Eisman’s bet to synthesize more of them. Here, then, was the difference between fantasy finance and fantasy football: When a fantasy player drafts Peyton Manning, he doesn’t create a second Peyton Manning to inflate the league’s stats. But when Eisman bought a credit-default swap, he enabled Deutsche Bank to create another bond identical in every respect but one to the original. The only difference was that there was no actual homebuyer or borrower. The only assets backing the bonds were the side bets Eisman and others made with firms like Goldman Sachs. Eisman, in effect, was paying to Goldman the interest on a subprime mortgage. In fact, there was no mortgage at all. “They weren’t satisfied getting lots of unqualified borrowers to borrow money to buy a house they couldn’t afford,” Eisman says. “They were creating them out of whole cloth. One hundred times over! That’s why the losses are so much greater than the loans. But that’s when I realized they needed us to keep the machine running. I was like, This is allowed?” "
    Like Rufus says,
    We, the patriotic taxpayers, supporters of our Civil Servants, are gonna make a profit outta this in the end.
    Just you wait!

  36. 75. Dave:

    Yep, Doug, it has gotta be her. Who else would charge forth with that dinky smallbore 9 and a one-handed stance?

    Only somebody too contrary to use a 1911 in the Weaver.

    However, does look like she might know what a front sight is for. And does look like enough sense to eschew a crunchenticker for a singleticker.

    Wonder what is up her stovepipe? A 110grain JHP or that subsonic 147grain SWC?

  37. The Conservative Pothead Webzine

    (for any Paulistinians out there - ie. Ron Paul voters)

  38. "This was what they had been waiting for: total collapse.
    “The investment-banking industry is fucked,”

    Eisman had told me a few weeks earlier.
    “These guys are only beginning to understand how fucked they are. It’s like being a Scholastic, prior to Newton. Newton comes along, and one morning you wake up: ‘Holy shit, I’m wrong!’ ”
    Now Lehman Brothers had vanished, Merrill had surrendered, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were just a week away from ceasing to be investment banks.
    The investment banks were not just fucked; they were extinct.

  39. What could go wrong?

    Well, for one, someone could actually take your PhD in philosophy seriously...Long since time for someone to shove Iglesias back in his Locker.

  40. Chart Showing The Drop In O'bumble's Approval Ratings

    While still in 'positive' territory, he's sunk like a rock from the git-go.

  41. Doug, no one's disputing that they went batshit crazy. All I'm saying is that we're not participating in the "batshit crazy" phase of the game. We're getting involved in the "cleanup."

    This entails loaning money to some otherwise excellent businesses at very good "terms." The assets that we end up "owning" will be priced appropriately. In fact, they'll be priced "very well."

    Have you noticed that Goldman, B of A, and several others are chomping at the bit to pay the Tarp money back? When they do we'll show a "Profit" on those investments.

    We're borrowing money at Very Low interest rates, and putting it out at fairly High Rates.

    In the meantime, We're Not in Depression. In fact, the Recession is "bottoming," as we speak.

    Yeah, I think we'll "Make Money" off the Bailout.

  42. Same thing will happen to "Copenhagen" as happened to Kyoto. It'll never make it onto the Senate floor.

  43. Time to follow WiO's advice.

    Read Atlas Shrugged. Life v art, etc.

  44. "Well, for one, someone could actually take your PhD in philosophy seriously...Long since time for someone to shove Iglesias back in his Locker."

    I think that one actually might make me "anti-intellectual"...or something.

    Arrogant tools.

  45. Sacramento.

    California Air Resources Board Adopts New Standards

    ProActive Standards

    Still smarting from their rumored regulations to ban black automobiles, CARB officials announce a proactive approach to the challenge of limiting automotive tailpipe emissions by unveiling a new prototype expected to become the California standard for automotive design.

    “We are by no means interested in banning or restricting car colors,” CARB spokesman Stanley Young said.

    The new standard is likely to govern new cars registered in California during the next forty to fifty years, at which time the electric vehicle will begin to make inroads on the conventional fleet, said an official at CARB who requested anonimity.

    tic publications, llc

  46. A United Nations document on "climate change" that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body.

    That raises the bile.

  47. LT: “We are by no means interested in banning or restricting car colors,” CARB spokesman Stanley Young said.

    That's good, because knowing California, the only allowable colors would have been pink, lavender and mauve.

  48. Two-Toned 1954 Oldsmobile 98 Starfire Convertible

    Whatever happened to the two-toned car? Used to like those.

    We should have cars that are black and white, would go with our current Presidential genetics, showing patriotism, and, would reflect heat in the summer and absord heat in the winter!

    Winner all round.

  49. ... during the next forty to fifty years, at which time the electric vehicle will begin to make inroads on the conventional fleet

    So I've been optimistic, saying 20 years, looks like it is more like 40 to 50, YEARS, until EVs begin to make inroads in the existing liquid powered fleet of vehicles.

  50. forty to fifty years, at which time the electric vehicle will begin to make inroads on the conventional fleet

    BEGIN in 40 to 50 years

  51. We can't even say what it will look like 4 to 5 years from now, much less 40 to 50.

  52. It is good to see MR (Rubysita) back with the quick wit and incite.

  53. The Telegraph Gloomster - AmbroseEvans makes the point that we're in danger of losing our manufacturing capacity.

    Oooh, that would be very bad as we would then have all this new funny money chasing scare supplies...Ouch!

  54. Qhit: It is good to see MR (Rubysita) back with the quick wit and incite.

    That makes one of ya at least. Thanks whit!

  55. And she was gracious enough not to point this out.

  56. Whit, I believed you were being whitty by deliberately misspelling insight as commentary on my traditional role on the EB as a Troll.

  57. That raises the bile.

    Aye. And green bile it is.

  58. A shallow man can drown in his own bile

  59. I'm glad to have rubyrenee back too, and MLD, as well.

  60. And I shouldn't gloss over LinearThinker's warm welcome too. I think he came aboard EB only a few days or weeks before my extended sabbatical. Thanks LT.

  61. Good Ol' Ambrose. He leaves out the most salient point. In early April, 1931 we had lost 30% of our "International" Trade. It was at This Point that Congress passed SMOOT-HAWLEY!

    In the next year we lost Another 70% of our trade, and we ended up 1933 with 80% of our trade gone, and 25% Unemployment. Other nations were hit even harder.

    Today, we have NAFTA, and the WTO. Countries are still "Trading" to the extent that people want to buy. Our Unemployment is a bit over 8%, and will probably top out on the "Sunny Side" of 9.

    "Our" recession is, basically, over.

  62. "Our" recession is, basically, over.

    But the funny accounting is not. It just gets worse and worse.