Canadian Shakespeare News

The Sanders Portrait of Shakespeare: Game-changing Research

In November 2015 the Council of Ontario Universities named the work done on the Sanders Portrait of Shakespeare as being in the top 50 game-changing research undertakings in Ontario over the last 100 years. Click here for the University of Guelph announcement and here for the Council of Ontario Universities general site announcement.


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

See also:

University of Guelph discoveries in running to be named biggest research ‘game changers’

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