Shakespeare Comes to Mac-Stew

Saturday, January 13, 2007

  • Lego Shakespeare, not part of the Mac-Stew exhibit

    Lego Shakespeare, not part of the Mac-Stew exhibit

A very loud and chatty crowd gathered at the MacDonald Stewart Art Centre Thursday night for the grand unveiling of the famous Sanders Portrait. On hand for the unveiling were University President Alastair Summerlee, portrait owner Lloyd Sullivan, Stratford Festival veteran William Hutt and a myriad of local politicians, U of G officials, members of the media and a jam-packed art centre full of onlookers.

“I cannot tell you what an amazing pleasure it is to see so many here tonight,” said Summerlee during his opening remarks. “I think you’ll agree that this is a dizzying display of history, culture and country.”

The Sanders Portrait is widely believed to be the only surviving likeness of playwright William Shakespeare that was done in his lifetime. According to researchers, it’s thought that the portrait was done sometime in 1603 when Shakespeare was 39-years-old. Sullivan discovered the 16.5” by 13” painting in a suitcase under his grandmother’s bed. It survived the nearly 400 years in remarkable good condition and has been the subject of a travelling exhibit as well as the 2001 book Shakespeare’s Face. Summerlee offered his feelings that the Sanders Portrait is a national treasure despite its English origins.

Sullivan agreed saying that the portrait was “back in Canada where it belongs,” after a recent showing at Yale University’s Centre for British Art in New Haven, Conn., which Sullivan “wasn’t too impressed with.”

The evening was also the official launch of Shakespeare-Made in Canada, a five-month long festival that will celebrate all things Shakespeare. It original grew out of the U of G’s Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project headed by English prof Daniel Fischlin. The goal of the project is to create the largest and most comprehensive website ever dedicated to the boundless cultural influences of Shakespeare.

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