Being a big fan of Jane Austen and her works I had to include her in my week of women in art. I like a good mystery and the following portrait has caused a mystery for several years with regard to whether or not the young girl is actually Jane Austen.
One of Jane Austen’s cousins gave the painting to a neighbour a fan of Jane’s work, and told her it was a painting of Jane Austen by Zoffany. at the time and until last century, it was accepted as a portrait of Jane Austen as a young girl, and was included by Lord Brabourne in his edition of Jane Austen’s letters.
In more recent times the painting came under more critical scrutiny, and it was determined that Jane Austen would have been around thirty years old when the painting was done, obviously much older than the girl in the portrait; it has further been determined that the painting is certainly not by Zoffany but by Ozias Humphry. It was thought that the painting could have been Jane Austen’s cousin also called Jane and that when the gift was given it was on a misapprehension.
However, several Austen scholars have become convinced that the painting could have been done at the time that Jane Austen was at the age of the girl in the portrait, and that other considerations, including some paperwork related to the painting as well as the resemblance of the girl to known portraits of Austen family members, showed that it was very possible that the painting was of Jane Austen. In 2007, Henry Rice, the late owner of the painting, attempted to auction the painting through Christie’s, advertising it as the only known real portrait of Jane Austen. Unfortunately for the Rice family, buyers apparently felt the provenance of the portrait did not match the price asked, and the auction did not reach the reserve price.
Ann Winston Rice, the wife of the late Henry Rice has a mission to tell the true story of the painting in her website here, which I found very interesting. http://www.janeaustenriceportrait.com/
There are few images of Jane Austen, but here are a some more..
One of the best-known images of Jane Austen is the well-known silhouette found pasted into a copy of Mansfield Park, bearing the legend “L’aimable Jane” (the amiable/pleasant/nice Jane) . There is no evidence to prove it is actually Jane. It is owned by the National Portrait Gallery.
This portrait of Jane Austen makes Clarke’s Friendship Book a literary treasure of inordinate rarity. The National Portrait Gallery in England incorrectly claims an absolute monopoly in Jane Austen portraiture by owning the only depiction of Jane Austen in the world which (they say) “can be authenticated”: (ie by the Gallery themselves). The National Portrait Gallery’s claim to a monopoly is now said to be incorrect. There are now three portraits of the novelist (including Clarke’s) which are known and claimed to be authenticted . It would seem almost as difficult as finding a true portrait of portrait-less William Shakespeare. (http://www.artworksgallery.co.uk/)
I hope you have enjoyed my post today for my week of women in art. Sorry for the delay I had a hectic day yesterday.