Christopher Marlowe Portrait, or Unknown 21-Year Old Man, Supposed to be Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe Portrait, or Unknown 21-Year Old Man, Supposed to be Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe Portrait, or Unknown 21-Year Old Man, Supposed to be Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe Portrait, or Unknown 21-Year Old Man, Supposed to be Christopher Marlowe

“Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships, / And burnt the topless towers of Ilium." 

No. 

Not so much. 

This may not have been the face that wrote those epic lines in the play Doctor Faustus.

“Unknown 21-year old man, supposed to be Christopher Marlowe” Uncovered

Discovered in 1953 in some ruble at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; this painting is thought to be a depiction (the only depiction) of Christopher Marlowe. Hence the title, “Unknown 21-year old man, supposed to be Christopher Marlowe.”

Marlowe attended the college between the years 1580-87. The picture, dated to 1585, suggests that the youth in it is 21, which would have been Marlowe’s age at the time.

Though widely attributed to being Marlowe, the image itself shows a youth of more class than Marlowe; since Britain had such strong sumptuary laws at the time, a shoemaker’s son could never wear such regalia, leading many to think the claim that the portrait is Marlowe is suspect… hence the title: “Unknown 21-year old man, supposed to be Christopher Marlowe.”