Gallery buys playwright painting





The only known portrait of a Jacobean playwright whose contemporary renown rivalled Shakespeare has finally been purchased by the National Portrait Gallery after an appeal. The likeness of John Fletcher, by an unknown artist, has been bought from the 7th Earl of Clarenden for £218,000. Donations to the gallery's appeal included £50,000 from The Art Fund and £2,700 from a raffle at the house in Rye, Sussex, where the writer was born. Fletcher, a vicar's son, was born in 1579 and died of the plague in 1625. As well as writing his own plays, he also collaborated with Shakespeare on Cardenio, which has been lost, The Famous History of the Life of King Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen. The painting now completes the gallery's collection of portraits of 16th and 17th Century writers, which features images of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and John Donne.

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