300多年来，这幅画一直是Cobbe家族的收藏，此前家族成员一直不知道画上的人物是谁，目前的继承者Alec Cobbe也曾认为这是诗人沃尔特拉雷的画像。2006年，Alec Cobbe在美国看到一幅莎士比亚的画像，发现它与自己家里的那幅画惊人地相似。然后，他找到莎士比亚基金会的Well教授，起初Wells也将信将疑，但经过几年来X光和红外扫描，及一系列的照片鉴定，Wells教授表示：“我有90%的把握可以确认，这是莎士比亚在世时的绘制的唯一一幅画像。这是莎士比亚的历史研究的重大进展。”
First portrait of William Shakespeare unveiled
After three years of meticulous analysis, x-rays and infrared imaging, experts claim to have uncovered the only surviving portrait of William Shakespeare painted during his life.
The oil canvas is thought to have been painted in 1610 - six years before the playwright's death - when he was about 46 years old.
For three centuries the family was unsure of the identity of the figure in the portrait. According to Alec Cobbe, an art restorer, at one time it had been thought to be of Sir Walter Raleigh. In 2006, he visited the National Portrait Gallery and saw a painting of Shakespeare that hangs in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington. It had been accepted as a life portrait of Shakespeare, but was discredited 70 years ago. Mr Cobbe saw the painting and realised the similarities with the painting he had inherited.
Believing his painting to be the original, he contacted Professor Stanley Wells, chairman of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, who was initially sceptical. Prof Wells said: "My first impression was scepticism - I am a scholar. But my excitement has grown with the amount of evidence about the painting.
"I am willing to go 90 per cent of the way to declaring my confirmation that this is the only life time portrait of Shakespeare. It marks a major development in the history of Shakespearian portraiture."
The painting will go on display at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 23, Shakespeare's birthday.