The Chesterfield Portrait of William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

Image credit: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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This portrait, possibly by the Dutch painter Pieter Borsselaer (or Peter Borsseler, also Peter Bustler), was once owned by the Earl of Chesterfield. It is perhaps the most Baroque of all paintings of Shakespeare, with its flamboyant and expressive gesture. Shakespeare's head is clearly modelled on the Chandos Portrait (now in the National Portrait Gallery, London), including the characteristic earring.

It is one of only a few paintings of Shakespeare which can be dated with some certainty to no later than the middle years of the seventeenth century. The painting has been attributed to Zuccaro (whose name appears in an inscription) but this is a standard attribution for Elizabethan portraits and in almost all cases is wrong.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust



The Chesterfield Portrait of William Shakespeare (1564–1616)




oil on canvas


H 127.5 x W 120 cm

Accession number

SBT 1967-3

Acquisition method

gift, 1967

Work type



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Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6QW England

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