Talk:Ashbourne portrait

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search


Thanks to whoever created this page. It was much needed.--BenJonson (talk) 19:49, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Softlavender. Mark Anderson is not a scholar, his book is not a work of reputable scholarship. He subscribes to a fringe theory, and is writing against the verdict of what qualified scholars of art have concluded decades ago. Attempts to revive Ogburn's theory, against the consensus of qualified scholarship, will be reverted here, as abusing the page to promote a fringe theory, instead of simply describing the portrait in terms compatible with its history, which belongs primarily to the history of portraiture and art. Nishidani (talk) 04:10, 19 June 2010 (UTC)
Nishi, I haven't added a single citation or madea single statement that wasn't already in or implied in the article. I've merely made it NPOV. Since the painting is so highly disputed, and neither side of the dispute regards the other side as a reliable source, what the article must do is report neutrally both sides of the dispute as neutrally as possible. Softlavender (talk) 05:30, 19 June 2010 (UTC)
Mark Anderson is only there on tolerance, for the fact that he revived the theory despite the fact that it has been effectively destroyed. It is not NPOV as you write it. It is another promo for de Vere. The theory is dead, so drop it. The painting is not 'highly disputed'. If you have competent art historians, and not twobit journos, attesting that Pressly's history and analysis was wrong, by all means introduce them. There are not 'two sides to this dispute'. There was a theory, disproven, and the two sides historically ended up with one side winning the dispute, as with the whole SAQ issue. Nishidani (talk) 06:48, 19 June 2010 (UTC)
What you did was muck around to create the false impression that NPOV consists in a balancing act between what the best reliable academic sources say of a subject, and what a rearguard WP:fringe group of outsiders insist on, despite the progress of scholarship. Note how you, not only subjectivise Pressly reports of what was a scientific examination of the portrait, which proved beyond doubt it was Hamlersley, but you elided what Pressly documents: Oxfordians, though disappointed, quickly accepted the findings,[16] In eliminating this detail, you violated a prime canon of wikipedia editing, which says reliably sourced information cannot be removed, though I understand its removal was necessary to allow you to then fudge up the misleading impression in your lead that there is a controversy here. There isn't. The controversy raised by Barrell was buried in 1979.
The fact is, again, when the Folger results were published, Oxfordian authorities accepted them, and withdrew this particular fixation from their belief system or cistern. Then it was revived by some Oxfordians, among them Barbara Burris, who paints, but is not a competent judge of Renaissance and Reformation portraiture, unlike the authorities Pressly quotes, and Mark Anderson who is a journalist and may known something about astrophysics, but has no background in historiography, Elizabethan scholarship or anything pertaining to Shakespeare.
It is a gross misreading of WP:NPOV to believe that outlandish opinions by a fringe bunch of kibitzers deserve equal treatment with the scholarly consensus.Nishidani (talk) 15:40, 19 June 2010 (UTC)
Now Smatprt gets into the act.
The justification for his revert is that I eliminated a ref that, being the NYTimes, must stay in. Well, no, not if the snippet refers to an opinion which has no place as an opinion being that of a de Verean fringe theorist writing for the 'Oxfordian' which happens to ignore what historians of art have determined. The text in question is this:

More recently, an old controversy has flared again over what is known as the Ashbourne portrait, which the Folger once considered a portrait of Shakespeare.

No controversy 'flared up'. Ms Burris's quaint views have not, on any evidence here, excited the least interest among historians of art, or Shakespearean scholars.

In 1940, an article in Scientific American by Charles Wisner Barrell, a film specialist, argued that the Ashbourne painting was a portrait of Oxford. Using X-ray and infra- red photography, Barrell said he had found many indications that the portrait depicts Oxford, including Oxford's emblem (a boar's head) on the subject's signet ring and the monogram of the Dutch artist Cornelius Ketel, dating the portrait to around 1580.

Stratfordians were not pleased. The Folger did its own study of the painting and concluded that the sitter was Hugh Hamersley, later the Lord Mayor of London in 1627- 28. The library holds that position today, although "the Folger does not take an institutional stand on any authorship issue," said Dr. Werner Gundersheimer, its director. Speaking for himself, he dismissed the authorship question as a parlor game and a distraction from the plays.

Shakespeare Matters, the newsletter of a new Oxfordian group, the Shakespeare Fellowship (, has pushed Barrell's case further. In the current issue, in the second of a series of articles by Barbara Burris, it offers evidence that the fashions the sitter wears in the painting date to about 1580, when Hamersley would have been 15 and Oxford 30, and when Ketel was working in England.

There is no external evidence for Burris's opinion. Nishidani (talk) 15:40, 19 June 2010 (UTC)

Note on editing to sources to Smatprt[edit]

Please do not, as you did, (a) excise exact and verifiable information in the main RS that you may dislike, as appears to be the case when you elided this from the text:'Oxfordians, though disappointed, quickly accepted the findings,(Pressly (2010) 66).

(b) Do not retain a RS while rephrasing in a way that no longer represents what the RS, if examined, actually says, as you did in substituting: 'Oxford had invested and lost a large sum of money.(Alan Nelson, Monstrous Adversary, Liverpool University Press, 2003 pp.187-189) with 'Oxford was a primary investor.'.(Alan Nelson, Monstrous Adversary, Liverpool University Press, 2003 pp.187-189)

The Folger 'article' is not an article. It is a brief note on the portrait, and tells one nothing that is not comprehensively explained, in minute detail, in Pressly's Folger article. Wiki articles should only resort to such items when detailed RS are not available. Nishidani (talk) 20:05, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

The Folger piece is RS. And you must admit it is more balanced. Can you explain why you don't want the article to reflect the Folger opinion? In any case, both are there now, so no big deal. Smatprt (talk) 20:33, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
Smatprt. Just as a matter of personal curiosity. Could you tell me the technical explanation among Oxfordians for the 'aetatis suae' 47 in the portrait? If it is Oxford, then that would mean it was painted in 1597, when Ketel is out of the picture. Shakespeare was 47 in 1611 (the falsified date), Hamersley was 47 in 1612 (the restored date).Nishidani (talk) 20:18, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
No, but I'd be happy to refer you to some articles about it. My own take is with the amount of touch-ups and overpainting involved, how on earth can we tell if the dates were added at another time? After all, if it's Hamersley, the coat of arms must have been added several years later. How can we say "with certainty" when the dates were first added, then changed, etc.? Unfortunately, X-rays don't tell us everything. Smatprt (talk) 20:33, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
I may well appear to you to be an opinionated ratbag, but I assure you I have read every word of Burris's article. I have only read Mark Anderson through his various web pages, and decided not to read his book because my upbringing makes it quite painful for me to read things that constrain me to use a red pencil on every other page to correct errors. If Burris has the goods, then the proper thing to do is to work that article up, as Diana Price did, and make a small monograph or set forth her thesis, without any of the usual Oxfordian props, in a mainstream journal of art history. If that is done, it can be cited. I don't know why you guys want recognition, and yet refuse to master the quite simple methodology of writing up research in an objective way according to what standard academic imprints require. It's not that hard to do, you know. All you need to do is never, never copy from secondary sources, but rather constantly check them against primary sources. And secondly, always cite the most authoritative monographs books and articles that differ from you in their conclusions, explaining why they are wrong, not in terms of conspiracy, but in terms of weighing of evidence. (Price doesn't do this ever, by the way).
In any controversy or argument, no one is going to get everything right all of the time. What disturbs me in the Oxfordian positions is the refusal to budge on almost everything.
If it was Oxford, and done in the 1579-80s, then aetatis suae.47 is a falsification. But (a) it is a falsification that has to be explained. Why did someone between 1580 and 1847 add that, and the date 1611?. It was there in 1847. There can be no reasonable shadow of a doubt (b) that 1611/47 is to be read, whatever its provenance, as suggesting the portrait is of Shakespeare. In 1847, down to 1979 no one thought of an obscure chap like Hamersley. But the restoration by Michaels brought out, you can see it clearly, an underlying 1612 beneath 1611. And, independently of the coat of arms, that 1612 corresponds exactly to Hamersley's age. Even the person who altered it in the 19th century appears not to have known it was of Hamersley. Discovering that 1612, and then, through the coat of arms, identifying Hamersley, and then finding that, lo and behind, Hamersley's dates fit exactly with 47/1612 is extremely strong evidence. Nishidani (talk) 20:58, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the comments. I certainly understand your exasperation about "refusal to budge" as that describes both camps, don't you agree? I'm not sure what you mean by "you guys", since I am not a researcher by trade. And folks like Stritmatter do indeed get their work published in academic journals. More will come, I'm sure, but with certain academics refusing to publish authorship research (like that Hardy list-serve that "forbids" discussion about "the topic that will not be named", it's a slow process. In regards to dates - the problem is... when were the dates added and why? When was the coat of arms added and why? Is there any evidence that Ketel never returned to England after 1580's? Ever? Was he bedridden or something? Anyhow, here is another article for you [1]. A lot of good detail, though I am sure you will find flaws. :) Smatprt (talk) 21:23, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
It's a matter of method. It's hard enough getting scholars to observe method, most books contains slips and oversights and thoughtless conclusions here and there. But when people untrained in method, as most Oxfordians happen to be, write, it is painful for those who have had fundamental principles of research method drummed into them to read the results. It's not your field, I know. But sometimes it is worth while asking oneself why so many refuse to read this material. It is, physically and mentally, as painful as reading the New York Times or any other mainstream newspaper on a subject one has deep technical knowledge of.It is this that few of you appear to understand. It is like reading English written by a foreigner who appears to be fluent, but gets all the idioms slightly wrong because he learnt the language without ever actually speaking it. Thanks for the source. I'll read it tomorrow. It's late here.Nishidani (talk) 21:45, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
I read it, with difficulty since the pages were jumbled up. Nothing there, except a note or two on Barrell's misreadings. It really is too much you know for Burris and Jeremy Crick and Dorna Bewley and co., to assert that the Folger had a vested interest in asserting the portrait was of Shakespeare, that it tampered with the evidence, and engaged in a cover up, while thanking the Folger for access to its complete archives, and noting elsewhere that the Folger does not take a position on whether it is Oxford or Hamersley. In one Oxfordian account, the Folger is part of a Stratfordian conspiracy, in another the Folger is a generous and impartial dispenser of resources for heterodox researchers who challenge the Stratfordian hypothesis. It is all spitting on the face of those who smile at you, and then thanking them for the opportunity. This bitchiness is one trait Oxfordians seem to share with many academics, but if you imitate their vices, you would do well to learn to appropriate their virtues, which consist in clarity of analysis, scepticism for the unproven, independence from groupthink, autonomy of judgement and fidelity to the requirement that, optimally, total comprehension of a field of research, and its limits, must prevail over partisan nitpicking for convenient traces of evidence to bolster a preconceived thesis that, in the absence of any documentary 'smoking gun' remains suspended in the airs of pure and infinite conjecture. Above all one must master the history of the subject. 95% of the arguments in these theories were already on record by the end of the 19th century. Half of Diana Price is in Begley and Greenwood, and the rest in Alden Brooks from 1943. Compare Sidney Lee with Park Honan or a Brian Vickers and you will see a world of difference reflecting a real progress in knowledge, and not a trite and unwitting recycling of dead clichés from the rubbishbins of provincial controversy.Nishidani (talk) 09:54, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: moved by Paul Barlow (talk · contribs). (non-admin closure) Jenks24 (talk) 10:20, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

The Ashbourne portraitAshbourne portrait – The word "The" shouldn't be used to begin article titles per WP:THE. Notice that the other portraits of William Shakespeare similarly omit the "The". —Flax5 19:22, 19 May 2012 (UTC)

Whatever. I don't give a flying fig. Paul B (talk) 22:41, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support per WP:THE. Deor (talk) 11:34, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support per WP:THE, wouldn't be capitalised in running text. Jenks24 (talk) 08:17, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Support per WP:THE, and I do give a flying fig about making Wikipedia better. DeVereGuy (talk) 13:28, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
Anyone can see from your edit history just how much you contribute to making Wikipedia better. Actually, pedantry is waaaay less important than good content, clear prose and coherence. That's what makes Wikipedia better, not whether or not commas go before or after quotation marks, or any of the rest of these minor matters. It's essentially convention. Good writing is not determined by such things. Having said that, this is not a controversial issue (like the endless debate about The Beatles), since "The Ashbourne Portrait" is not an official title like The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even. So as far as I can see the vote is redundant. It should just be a matter of applying policy - which means no "the" and no capitalisation of "portrait": just like wot I already did without a fuss when I created Droeshout portrait. Paul B (talk) 13:34, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Changed. I think we've had enough time to determine consensus. Paul B (talk) 17:23, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


Can someone change the description on Ashbourne from "village" to "market town".

Ashbourne certainly cannot be classed as a village, nor was it when the picture surfaced.... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:31, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

Well what matters is what size it was in the early 1800s, but sure, I don't want to offend the fine citizens of Ashbourne. Paul B (talk) 16:04, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

In fact in the early 1800s Ashbourne was a large market town - actually larger than Derby. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:11, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

and proved what Spielmann had suspected[edit]

The article does not say that Spielman suspected anything. Did the writer mean to say "what Allen had suspected" or did Spielman have doubts about the portrait that are not mentioned in this article?Fotoguzzi (talk) 23:29, 20 October 2012 (UTC)

Yes, I've long been rather unclear about that passage, but do not have access to the full text of Spielmann's book. The Tate book, which refers to Spielmann, does not mention suspicions that it had been overpainted. I don't know whether Barrell's original article mentions Allen. Paul B (talk) 10:00, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
I changed the passage. Paul B (talk) 12:00, 27 January 2013 (UTC)


A photographic comparison of the two paintings, the L111 of de Vere and the Ashbourne shows they are actually the same sitter, Edward de Vere. This is because painters used patterns to avoid having sitters sit for long periods when later portraits were made. (talk) 17:04, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

It just appears to be a rather fuzzy detail of the de Vere portrait, serving only to create the impression he needs a shave. I see no "comparison", since the actual outlines of the two sets of facial features are not lined up. I've no idea what this is supposed to demonstrate; there are many physiognomical differences, and I don't know what you mean when you say painters used "patterns". Copying portraits was certainly very commonplace, but the similarities between these are not typical of copies. In any case, since the portrait has no documented connection with Shakespeare whatever, what would this prove if it were true? That Oxford secretly pretended to be a haberdasher? Paul B (talk) 18:23, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

The second '1' should be third '1'?[edit]

In the article is the following:

"[...] to yield the year 1611 (when Shakespeare was 47). Beneath the second 1 of that date a 2 is clearly visible, indicating it was executed in 1612, 8 years after Oxford's death, [...]".

However, the second '1' of "1611" is not in the single digits place, it is in the tens digit place (the first '1' is in the thousands digit place of the year). Thus, shouldn't this say "the third 1"? — al-Shimoni (talk) 10:58, 13 May 2016 (UTC)