'Abd al-Wāḥid bin Mas'ūd bin Muḥammad bin 'Anūrī, Moroccan Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth I

Image credit: University of Birmingham

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This portrait is of 'Abd al-Wāḥid bin Mas'ūd bin Muḥammad bin 'Anūrī, Secretary and Ambassador for Muley Hamet, King of Barbary, to Queen Elizabeth I. This portrait commemorates the visit of the King of Fez’s embassy to London in 1600–1601. The Embassy took place a year or so before the agreed date of 'Othello' and the painting, as Bernard Harris says, provides 'ocular proof of what the Elizabethans saw as a Moor of rank'. Although it would be mere speculation to say that Shakespeare based his character on the Moorish visitor it may be assumed that at least a London audience of that day would expect to see a real Barbarian on their stage. The inscriptions to the left indicate the date of the visit, the name of the sitter and his age, while his title is given to the right.

University of Birmingham Shakespeare Institute



'Abd al-Wāḥid bin Mas'ūd bin Muḥammad bin 'Anūrī, Moroccan Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth I




oil on panel


H 113 x W 87.6 cm

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University of Birmingham Shakespeare Institute

Mason Croft, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6HP England

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