The only known portrait of Shakespeare is for sale

Shakespeare’s portrait is said to be the only one made in his lifetime and is on sale for £10m.

Robert Peake’s portrait of Shakespeare went on sale this week. Commissioned in 1608, the portrait has an asking price of 10 million pounds, which in US bucks, that a cool $11,870,000 thank you very much.

The current owner of the portrait who prefers to stay anonymous has had the painting hung in their private residence since 1975, prior to that, the picture hung in the library of a home in the north of England, once home to the Danby family. It is currently on display at the Grosvenor House hotel in west London.

shakespeare portrait
Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Robert Peake was the court painter to King James I and has signed and dated 1608 the portraits. The painting is said to be the only signed and dated image of William Shakespeare created during his lifetime. Shakespeare died in 1616, at the age of 52.

The team behind the sale, claim the connections between Shakespeare and Peake are “extensive” and that the artist was regularly commissioned to paint the portraits of high-ranking members of the court, ladies and lords, and Jacobean society.

They also noted he was commissioned by the Office of the Revels, which oversaw the presentation of plays, and worked in the rehearsal studios in Clerkenwell, London, where Shakespeare’s plays were walked through prior to performing live.

To date, there’s only been two paintings of Shakespeare, both done posthumously, that are generally agreed as being valid, the engraving that appears on the title page of the First Folio, published in 1623, and the sculpture at his funeral monument in Stratford-upon-Avon. 

shakespeare first folio