Richard Hale was one of a number of generous and great men who furthered the education of this country by founding Grammar Schools. However, he remains a shadowy figure known largely through his portrait. In producing the bust, I inevitably relied heavily on the portrait, but wanted also to enter into the personality of the man. This was a little difficult, since his life is not well documented beyond the essentials; but these, I believe, tell us a lot about him. He was a wealthy grocer, born in Codicote, who purchased the manor of King’s Walden, but who also owned a house in London. He was therefore a wealthy Elizabethan commuter. At the age of 81 he founded Hertford Grammar School, and it is fairly certain that this was because he was genuinely interested in promoting education. His grandsonson was one of the first pupils at the school and went on to become Master of Peterhouse. If the grandfather was anything like the grandson, he would have been an exemplary individual described as “greatly beloved by all with whom he came into contact.” When we look at the portrait, Hale at first sight appears very severe. However, in order to produce the bust, I photographed the portrait and enhanced the image. The man then appeared as dignified and serious but also, it seemed to me, very kindly, and this is what I have tried to portray. I have done away with the hat, as I wanted to produce more than a three dimensional reproduction of the painting, and I felt that removing it would also remove a level of formality, making him more approachable. Beneath the hat, he appears to be wearing a coif, which was a common piece of headgear of the period which appears in many portraits, such as that of John Dee, scholar and advisor to Elizabeth I – and indeed in the portrait of Richard’s grandson, Bernard. I thought it was advisable to give him some sort of head-covering, since we do not know whether or not the octogenarian would have had a full head of hair. As there is only one contemporary portrait of him, it is probably irrelevant – but there is always the possibility that another might turn up to invalidate my portrayal.
The painting seems to me to be a very good example of a portrait of its period, but it inevitably posed a few interesting problems. The most obvious is producing a three dimensional image from a two dimensional one, where the profile has to be deduced. I also found it interesting that the bone structure is very prominent, as in an older person where the flesh has to some extent fallen away; yet at the same time Richard’s cheeks are very full, and I had to produce an image that made sense of this. Finally, as good as the portrait is, the eyes succumb to the Tudor and Elizabethan fashion for arched eyebrows with a very flattened area above the bridge of the nose between them. In case his eyebrows were indeed arched, I tried to retain this whilst at the same time making it more realistic.