This is fabulous. They have discovered a portrait of Shakespeare's patron (and quite possibly his lover), the third Earl of Southampton, dressed as a woman.
Experts who have studied the facts now agree that the portrait is undoubtedly the earliest known image of the third Earl of Southampton - Shakespeare's patron, the 'fair youth' addressed in his sonnets - somewhere between the age of 17 and 20 and painted at exactly the time those first few sonnets were written. Suddenly, the 'gap-stopper' became 'the jewel in the crown of the Cobbe collection'. Says Alastair Laing now, in the light of Cobbe's new evidence: 'I am very happy indeed about the identification. Given the connection to Shakespeare and his sonnets, it is a very, very exciting discovery.' In the portrait by an unknown artist, dating from the early 1590s, the teenage Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, is wearing lipstick, rouge and an elaborate double earring. His long hair hangs down in very feminine tresses and his hand lies on his heart in a somewhat camp gesture.