Shakespeare Tomb Portrait Mask
n.p. n.d. late 18th/early 19th century.

Plaster cast of the face of William Shakespeare taken from the playwright's funerary monument in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon. The monument is by either Gerard Johnson or his brother Nicholas, carved at some unknown date between Shakespeare's death in 1616 and the deaths of Gerard in 1623 and Nicholas in 1624.
The cast is in excellent condition, slightly browned to the lower part of the face. A very striking object. The date of this mask is unknown although it is known that casts were being taken by the mid-eighteenth century. While some were legitimately made, there was also a small but significant trade in masks secretly taken during night visits to Shakespeare's tomb. It is probably now impossible to discover the circumstances surrounding the making of this mask but it would be nice to think that it involved a bit of midnight skulduggery.