Revealing Identities


A research team led by Daniel Fischlin at the University of Guelph confirmed that a 400-year-old painting is very likely the only genuine image of William Shakespeare created while the Elizabethan playwright was alive. Named for the Sanders family, its owners over some thirteen generations, “The Sanders Portrait of Shakespeare” is the only Shakespearean historical artifact that gives his birth date (April 23), coincidentally the same day on which he died. The Sander’s descendants immigrated with the portrait to Canada in the early part of the twentieth century, which is how Fischlin and his researchers eventually got involved.

Using scientific, historical, and genealogical evidence, researchers have demonstrated that the portrait depicts the Bard in 1603 at age 39, a critical moment in Shakespeare’s history after he had completed the writing of Hamlet and been made a King’s Man. The portrait remains a much researched, much debated document related to one of history’s most influential writers.

Daniel Fischlin


© Government of Canada, Canadian Conservation Institute, CCI73456-0003