Two Palms Are Not Enough

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23 February 2016
· The Stratford-on-Avon District Council commissions a fitting portrait ·

The painting below is the subject of an article in yesterday’s Telegraph (link follows below the picture). I wasn’t going to publicise it with even a tweet, much less a blog post – but I keep being drawn back to look at the thing against my will, like a rubbernecker at a traffic accident.

What on earth is up with those tracksuit trousers?

Imaginary Willy wearing a tracksuit and actually writing - Stratfordian Willy prints sold“The new portrait claims to be the most
accurate representation of the playwright.”
Photo: The Artist’s Print Room

Some questions are best left unanswered. And I’m not even going into the imaginary handwriting.

As for the rest – pfffft. Go read, if you must, about this new-render’d cartoon, begot of nothing but vain fantasy.

If you’d rather cut to the chase:

The finished portrait, measuring three feet eight inches by three feet, will hang at Stratford Town Hall for the festivities commemorating Shakespeare’s death, after which it will be put on sale, along with 400 limited edition prints.

[The artist] produced the painting in partnership with Stratford-upon-Avon town and district councils. Mike Gittus, chairman of Stratford-on-Avon District Council said: “The William Shakespeare 400th Anniversary portrait is a skilful interpretation of the face of Stratford-upon-Avon’s most famous son. We hope that royalties from the sale of signed prints of the portrait will raise much needed funds to help safeguard Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations.”

I’m shocked, shocked, to find that commerce is going on in there. Heaven knows, as does the District Council of Stratford-on-Avon, that future Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations must be safeguarded.

I’m out of palms again.
Look closely at this photo (also from the Telegraph article), and see if you can figure out what’s missing, aside from the proper author.

Artist paints Willy with paintless palette, metaphor writes itself - Stratfordian Willy prints sold
Sometimes the metaphors write themselves.

I don’t mean to pick on poor Mr Tristram. He may be naïve and somewhat gullible, but aside from the questionable trousers, he appears to be a talented portraitist. He draws cartoons also, isn’t that perfect. He should have done one for this commission – it would have been a far more appropriate form for the subject.