The most famous portrait and frame in the gallery is the portrait of the great William Shakespeare, known as the Chandos Painting after a previous owner.
It is to date and knowledge the only portrait of William Shakespeare that was painted from life by what we believe the artist John Taylor, although this has never been confirmed. This was the first painting that the national portrait gallery acquired in 1856.
The portrait is currently housed in a tortoiseshell frame which was custom made solely for this piece back in 1983 by John Davis. Davis modified and old frame that housed the portrait, and although the frame is not a period piece it certainly enhances the scale of the portrait and colour of the image in its current state of condition.
Although there is not a full of history of the frames in which this piece was originally housed in, we do know that it arrived at the gallery in 1856 housed in what is known as a Maratta Frame, usually a gold guilded frame made by the Carlo Maratta. One of these frames recently went up for sale at auction with an estimate of £1000 – £2500.