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Shakespeare Week Portraits

Young Shakespeare Contemplating

Who painted it?

Ted May


How big is it?

Width 760 mm (unframed)

Height 760 mm (unframed)


What is it made of?

Oil paint on canvas


Artist Biography

Ted May was born in Sydney, Australia in 1939, but now lives and works in Melbourne. Ted May has experimented with lots of different styles of painting including creating abstract landscapes (abstract paintings are paintings that don’t try to show how something really looks but use colour, lines and shapes to represent something) and creating ‘Cubist’ figures (Cubism is a type of art that uses geometric shapes to create an image). Later on in his career Ted May began to create humorous portraits like this one of Shakespeare. 


About the Picture

In this portrait Shakespeare, as a young man, covers his face with his hand as if he is thinking deeply about something. What might he be thinking about? How do you think he is feeling?

The artist, Ted May, wrote a poem to accompany the painting which hints that Shakespeare is trying to think of a story for a new play. Perhaps he is worried that it won’t be as good as the ones he wrote before!


Try this…

Is there a portrait or a picture that you like? Why not have a go at writing a story or poem about what you think is happening in the picture?

Use a tablet to take photographs of a friend and then use an app such as ‘Face swap’ to add funny effects. Create a selection of images that show a range of thoughts and emotions.