Experts believe that the sitter is William Shakespeare because:
1. They can trace the painting directly to someone closely connected to Shakespeare
2. Some copies of the painting can be traced back to within living memory of Shakespeare
3. The Cobbe portrait is inscribed with a classical quotation addressed to a playwright
Although it is likely that the man featured in the Cobbe portrait is William Shakespeare, the evidence remains circumstantial because a direct link back to Shakespeare himself cannot be established. However, the original and its copies are now being considered together as a group for the first time.