Richard Burbage (1568-1619): became the leading actor in the Lord Chamberlain's Company (subsequently the King's Men); inherited shares in the Blackfriars Theatre and 'the Theatre' in Shoreditch in 1597. He demolished the Shoreditch theatre and used the materials to construct the Globe Theatre, where he played a succession of leading roles in plays by Shakespeare, Jonson, and Beaumont and Fletcher, originating the roles of Richard III, Hamlet, Lear and Othello, among others. The odd shape of the portrait is due less to a slight reduction in the size of the canvas than to the fact that the head has been painted, probably from life, to be sewn into a larger canvas. This practice allowed the painter to work away from the studio. The fact that this painting has never been inserted in a larger canvas suggests either that the image became redundant-through being painted just before the sitter's death, for instance-or that the painter was dissatisfied with this work.