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Pen and Portraiture
December 5, 2011 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Jane Austen biographer discovers 'lost portrait' Better (expandable) picture of it in the Guardian, and a link to the classic pic you should be familiar with.
posted by IndigoJones (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
> the classic pic you should be familiar with

/fails
posted by goethean at 1:27 PM on December 5, 2011


the classic pic you should be familiar with

and THAT'S why you don't let your siblings draw your portrait, Michael.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:29 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shall we say, rather, "you English majors should be familiar with."
posted by IndigoJones at 1:29 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


> the classic pic you English majors should be familiar with

/fails
posted by etc. at 1:31 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


That picture before or after she wrote the zombie books?
posted by cjorgensen at 1:35 PM on December 5, 2011


whoa! - she kinda looked like Dylan.....
posted by mrmarley at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2011


more recent pic
posted by nutate at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2011


It's all out of proportion
posted by stbalbach at 1:37 PM on December 5, 2011


Disappointed the pic wasn't a Kate Beaton.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:40 PM on December 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a biographer in possession of a good subject, must be in want of a better pic.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:40 PM on December 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Given the enormous professional and financial benefits to her if it's accepted as an authentic Jane Austen portrait, it's impossible for me to take her opinion as authoritative.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:43 PM on December 5, 2011


"The idea that it was an imaginary portrait – that seemed to me to be a crazy theory. That genre doesn't exist,"

Unfortunately, I failed to finish the sentence as the classicist side of my brain immediately had a deadly aneurysm.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 1:53 PM on December 5, 2011


The Guardian image makes me think Tilda Swinton should have played her in the biopic.
posted by zomg at 1:58 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, flibbertigibbet, are you telling me Michaelangelo wasn't able to get Zeus to take the form of a swan and pose with Leda for him?

I'm not an art history expert, but I'm reasonably sure that statement isn't true even if you leave mythology out of it.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:07 PM on December 5, 2011


deadly aneurysm

Ironically the name of the lead singer of the band Jane Awesome
posted by victors at 2:15 PM on December 5, 2011


> the classic pic you English majors should be familiar with

/fails


You might want to keep that under wraps.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:16 PM on December 5, 2011


I've been toggling back and forth between the images, and it's pretty difficult to see how, exactly, one would make a case for the new (new old, anyway) drawing as Austen, if all you've got to go on is her sister's version. New old drawing seems to have a much stronger chin, different eyebrow arches, and a noticeably wider mouth; the neck also appears to be longer, although that may be an illusion of the dress. But given that both drawings are, to be polite, amateur, I don't see how you could arrive at a conclusion (is New Old Drawing just an inept likeness of the person in Old Old Drawing, or is it an entirely different person?).

Would Byrne even have bothered to make the connection without the "identification" on the back? I've seen incorrect contemporary identifications on publicity photographs from the twentieth century--it's not as though that's sufficiently airtight proof.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:27 PM on December 5, 2011


(And, of course, that's all assuming that Old Old Drawing is itself accurate.)
posted by thomas j wise at 2:28 PM on December 5, 2011


Can't we judge her on her work not on her looks?
posted by biffa at 2:59 PM on December 5, 2011


Can't sleep. Jane Austen wants to skewer me with her nose.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:12 PM on December 5, 2011


It's a bit of a stretch to claim that Paula Byrne 'discovered' the portrait, as it has been known to Austen scholars for several years, and was sold at auction last March. The catalogue entry described it as follows:
This is the earliest of the so-called 'imaginary' portraits of Jane Austen, thus listed by Deirdre Le Faye in her article 'Imaginary Portraits of Jane Austen' in Jane Austen Society Report, 2007, pp. 42-52 (a copy of which is included with the lot).

Le Faye suggests that the portrait 'could be as early as 1818', one year after Austen's death. Le Faye comments: 'This might well be a creation by the Revd William Jones (1777-1821), curate and vicar of Broxbourne and Hoddesdon - or if not him, someone with very similar interests. On 17th April 1818 Mr Jones confided to his diary: "Whenever I am much 'taken with' an author, I generally draw his or her likeness in my own fancy..." The artist, whoever he/she may have been, seems to have read Henry's "Biographical Notice [of the Author", by Jane Austen's brother Henry in the four volumes of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in 1817] and invented the portrait accordingly, depicting a thin, large-nosed, well-dressed middle-aged lady set against a background of a swagged curtain, classical columns, and cathedral tower. She is sitting at a small round table, quill and notebook in hand and with eyes upraised apparently seeking literary inspiration from the heavens. The elements of the portrait are symbolic - her closely-fitting long-sleeved dress suggests sober respectability; and her various rings and necklaces demonstrate likewise that she was well off, not a poor hack writer starving in a garret. The sleeping cat on the table beside her implies spinsterhood - a pet instead of a child - and the cathedral tower in the background, vaguely reminiscent of Canterbury, harks back to Henry's statement in his last paragraph that "She was thoroughly religious and devout."'
This is one of two doubtful portraits of Jane Austen to surface at auction this year. The other one, painted by the Revd James Stanier Clarke, came up at Christie's in June, but failed to find a buyer.
posted by verstegan at 3:25 PM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I judge her work and her looks separately, biffa. Her work. Her looks. (sorry for the r/f7u12 cross-pollination)
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:09 PM on December 5, 2011


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