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Jane Inspires Art Exhibition

Jane Austen News

Jane Inspires New Art Exhibition

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Let’s Give Jane a Hand: The Austen Silhouette Manicure

The Austen Silhouette Manicure

This Easter I added a set of Nail Art Pens to my seven-year-old’s Easter basket. We had seen them demonstrated at our local warehouse club and she was eager to try the fun for herself. The idea is that each “pen” comes with a brush and pen attachment for creating detailed works of art on your finger nails.

Nail art sets like this one can be purchased from
Nail art sets like this one can be purchased from

After church that morning, we headed off to spend the day with family. Bella with polish eagerly clutched in hand, was sure that her artist Auntie Diana could work some magic for all the little girls in attendance. Being the good sport that she is, Diana had a steady stream of customers for watermelons, ladybugs and even snowmen, but when I saw the white and black pens, I was sure that an Austen silhouette could be had.

Grandma was game to give the silhouette a try.
Grandma was game to give the silhouette a try.

To create your own works of Austen art, you will need a bottle of white nail polish (available for French Manicures) and one black nail pen (or fine tipped permanent marker. Used on the polish, it should wipe off with nail polish remover and not leave a mark on the actual nail)

File your nails and paint a coat of white polish, as you would begin any manicure.

Using this silhouette as a guide, gently draw an outline of Jane Austen’s silhouette– your basic design will include the head with bun and aquiline nose, narrow neck and rounded neckline.

Austen Silhouette

Coat the finished nail with a clear coat for added durability. If you make a mistake, no worries– it comes off with nail polish remover!

I think the experiment was quite satisfactory, not to mention a lot of fun!

Laura Boyle is the author of Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends. Through her shop Austentation: Regency Accessories, she offers a large range of custom made hats, bonnets, reticules and Jane Austen related items

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Thomas Hope: Banker, Author, Adventurer

Thomas Hope (30 August 1769 – 3 February 1830/1831), was a Dutch and British merchant banker, author, philosopher and art collector, best known for his novel Anastasius a work which many experts considered a rival to the writings of Lord Byron. His sons included Henry Thomas Hope and Alexander Beresford Hope.

Hope in oriental dress; colour print after the portrait of 1798 by William Beechey.
Hope in oriental dress; colour print after the portrait of 1798 by William Beechey.

The eldest son of Jan Hope, Thomas was descended from a branch of an old Scottish family who for several generations were merchant bankers known as the Hopes of Amsterdam, or Hope & Co. He inherited from his mother a love of the arts, which the efforts of his father and grandfather made possible by acquiring an enormous wealth. His father spent his final years turning his summer home Groenendaal Park in Heemstede into a grand park of sculpture open to the public. After he fled to London with his brothers to avoid the French occupation of the Netherlands from 1795–1810, he never returned.

The Hope Dionysos photo TheHopeDionysos.jpg
The Hope Dionysus is a statue of Dionysus, the god of wine, wearing a panther skin and casually stretching his left arm over a smaller figure of a woman, in a Neo Attic or archaic pose. This statue, 821⁄4 in. (2.1 m) high, dates to between 27 BC and 68 AD. It was once owned by the 18th Century English antiquities collector Thomas Hope (hence the name), and later belonged to a descendant of Benjamin Franklin, before being acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1990. Image from Photobucket.

In 1784, when young Thomas was fifteen, his father died unexpectedly in the Hague just after purchasing Bosbeek on the grounds of Groenendaal Park, the house that was to house his large art collection. He shared his art collection as part of the Hope & Co. partnership with his cousin Henry Hope. This cousin was just completing work on his Villa Welgelegen further up the road. Missing his father and grandfather, and preferring the company of his mother and brothers to his uncles in Amsterdam, Thomas did not enter the family business. Instead, at the age of eighteen, he began to devote more and more of his time to the study of all the arts, especially the architecture of classical civilisation, during a series of tours to other countries. During his grand tour through Europe, Asia and Africa, Hope interested himself especially in architecture and sculpture, making a large collection of artifacts which attracted his attention (e.g. the Hope Dionysus).

The Groenendaal windmill today, landmark of Heemstede.
The Groenendaal windmill today, landmark of Heemstede.

Thomas Hope returned to the Hague when his mother died in 1794. That same year, the three Hope brothers, along with their elder cousin Henry Hope, who was the executor of their mother’s will, fled to London before the oncoming French revolutionary forces marching on Amsterdam. In their haste to remove their art collections to the safety of London, the Hopes left their houses, summer homes and parks full of wall decorations, furniture, and heavy statuary. Later, after the French occupation, Thomas’s younger brother Adrian Elias would return to live at Groenendaal Park full-time and expand the gardens. Cousin Henry always hoped to return to his home, Villa Welgelegen, but he died in 1811 before King Willem restored Dutch sovereignty in 1814.

Villa Welgelegen after restoration in 2009, with the bronze Laocoön and His Sons.
Villa Welgelegen after restoration in 2009, with the bronze Laocoön and His Sons.

The Hopes established a residence in London in Duchess Street, Cavendish Square. Experienced from all his travels, Thomas Hope took to London like a fish to water, while his younger brothers missed their home in the Netherlands. He decorated the house in a very elaborate style, from drawings made himself with each room taking on a different style influenced by the countries he had visited. In essence, the combined art collections of Hope & Co., his parents and Henry Hope gave him the opportunity to further research the various art he had studied during his travels and he began to write books on decoration and furniture, the first of its kind. In the same way he had done with Villa Welgelegen, Henry Hope opened the house as a semi-public museum. The house museum included three vase galleries filled with South Italian vases the Hopes purchased from Sir William Hamilton’s second vase collection.

The Hope Diamond on display at the Smithsonian museum.
The Hope Diamond on display at the Smithsonian museum.

In this eclectic wealthy residence of bachelors, younger brother Henry Philip oversaw the gem collection (acquiring the Hope Diamond and the Hope Pearl), while cousin Henry busied himself with the banking business and the Louisiana Purchase, together with Barings. Thomas Hope did not settle in London, however. He took up his grand tour where he left off, and in 1795 he began his extensive tours of the Ottoman Empire which included visits to Turkey, Rhodes, Egypt, Syria, and Arabia. He stayed for about a year in Istanbul/Constantinople during which he produced some 350 drawings depicting the people and places he witnessed in the Ottoman Empire, a collection now to be found in the Benaki Museum, Athens. During these travels, he was given free rein by the Hope & Co. firm to collect many paintings, sculptures, antique objects and books, some of which were destined to be displayed for the public in Amsterdam in the branch offices on the Keizersgracht 444, and some of which were destined for his London house in Duchess Street in 1804.

After his marriage to Louisa de la Poer Beresford in 1806, Hope acquired a country seat at Deepdene, near Dorking in Surrey. Here, surrounded by his large collections of paintings, sculpture and antiques, Deepdene became a famous resort of men of letters as well as of people of fashion. Among the luxuries suggested by his fine taste, and provided to his guests, was a miniature library in several languages in each bedroom. He also gave frequent employment to artists, sculptors and craftsmen. Bertel Thorvaldsen, the Danish sculptor, was indebted to him for the early recognition of his talents, and he was also a patron to Francis Legatt Chantrey and John Flaxman; it was to his order that the latter illustrated the writings of Dante Alighieri.

He was the father of Henry Thomas Hope, art patron and politician and Alexander James Beresford Beresford Hope, author and politician.

An Egyptian style room from Hope's book on interior design.
An Egyptian style room from Hope’s book on interior design.

Hope was eager to advance public awareness of historical painting and design and to influence design in the grand houses of Regency London. In pursuit of his scholarly projects, he began sketching furniture, room interiors and costumes, and publishing books with his accompanying scholarly texts.

In 1807 Thomas Hope published sketches of his furniture, in a folio volume, titled Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, which had considerable influence and brought about a change in the upholstery and interior decoration of houses. Hope’s furniture designs were in the pseudo-classical manner generally called “English Empire”. It was sometimes extravagant, and often heavy, but was much more restrained than the wilder and later flights of Thomas Sheraton in this style.

In 1809 he published the Costumes of the Ancients, and in 1812 Designs of Modern Costumes, works which display a large amount of antiquarian research. A Historical Essay on Architecture, which featured illustrations based on early Hope drawings, was published posthumously by his family in 1835. Thus Hope became famous in London’s aristocratic circles as ‘the costume and furniture man’. The sobriquet was regarded as a compliment by his enthusiastic supporters, but for his critics, including Lord Byron, it was a term of ridicule.


Yearning for a different type of literary acclaim as he approached the age of fifty, Hope began work on a novel with the enthusiastic encouragement of a few close friends. The result completed in 1819, Anastasius, was a work of such academic interest, raw excitement and descriptive power that the first edition released by fabled London publisher, John Murray, became an overnight sensation. A second edition sold out in twenty-four hours. Foreign translations in French, German and Flemish quickly followed.

The novel lifted a curtain of ignorance about the East without being a mere retelling of Hope’s own travels. The eponymous narrator-hero Anastasius was fearless, curious, cunning, ruthless, brave, and above all, sexy. As a newly converted Muslim mercenary soldier, Selim, his travels threw him among friends, lovers and enemies.

Hope’s descriptions revealed the lives of the inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire and provided astonishing glimpses of the wars fought among the Turks, Russians and Wahabees. It also described many previously unknown details of Islamic culture: music, language, cuisine, religion, laws and literature.

Because of his modesty, Hope originally chose not to declare his authorship of Anastasius in the first edition. Ironically, given Hope’s mild reputation, the authorship of the dashing Anastasius was at first mistakenly attributed to Lord Byron, who, according to legend, confided to Marguerite, Countess of Blessington, that he wept bitterly on reading it.

“To have been the author of Anastasius, I would have given the two poems which brought me the most glory.”
Lord Byron

These events prompted Hope to reveal his identity as author in later editions, adding a map of Anastasius’s travels and fine-tuning the text, although his authorship was initially greeted with incredulity by some journals.

Soon after Hope’s death in 1831, his widow Louisa remarried her cousin William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford. His family thereafter embraced conservative values, causing them to authorise the demolition of the writer’s legendary London home, disperse his fabled art collection, and distance themselves from his Oriental masterpiece. No substantial collection of Hope’s personal papers survived the family indifference and Anastasius, his magnum opus, became a victim of the sanctimonious morality of the Victorian age.

Nevertheless, it influenced the later works of William Thackeray, Mark Twain and Herman Melville. More recently, the noted Orientalist, Robert Irwin, wrote, “this book, one of the most important books of the nineteenth century, should be much more widely read.”


In addition to his other accomplishments, Hope was the author of an important philosophical work published posthumously, The Origin and Prospect of Man (1831), in which his speculations diverged widely from the social and religious views of the Victorian age. This volume, which has been cited by philosophy expert Roger Scruton, was a highly eclectic work and took a global view of the challenges facing mankind.

In his obituary published in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 17, No. 476, Saturday, 12 February 1831, it was written,

“We remember the opinion of a writer in the Edinburgh Review, soon after the publication of Anastasius. With a degree of pleasantry and acumen peculiar to northern criticism, he asks, ‘Where has Mr. Hope hidden all his eloquence and poetry up to this hour? How is it that he has, all of a sudden, burst out into descriptions which would not disgrace the pen of Tacitus, and displayed a depth of feeling and vigour of imagination which Lord Byron could not excel? We do not shrink from one syllable of this eulogy.’ “

Still commonly known among literary circles as “Anastasius Hope,” the combined artistic legacy of Thomas Hope is still of universal interest and importance.


In later years Hope cemented his position in society despite never obtaining a peerage. By the time of his death in 1831 his contribution to art and architecture had been widely recognised.

Deepdene House in 1842.
Deepdene House in 1842.

Sadly the two houses Hope created have been lost, Duchess Street demolished by his son in 1851 and the Deepdene in 1969. The only complete surviving structure built by Hope was the Deepdene mausoleum. Built in 1818, the structure was the first recorded work at the Deepdene and is Hopes final resting place. Permanently sealed in 1957 and buried in 1960 the structure has lain forgotten until now. The Mausolea and Monuments Trust has been working with Mole Valley District Council to rescue the structure and is running a campaign to excavate and repair it.

Hope in oriental dress; colour print after the portrait of 1798 by William Beechey.
Hope in oriental dress; colour print after the portrait of 1798 by William Beechey.

In an artistic irony against his Oriental legacy, Thomas Hope, the man who revealed the secrets of the Ottoman world, was recently incorrectly described by the writer Philip Mansel as being portrayed in his portrait as wearing the clothes of “a low ranking Greek sailor.”

However, because of studies undertaken in 2007, this 1798 portrait of Hope, done by William Beechey, can now be seen with a new appreciation. As proved by the noted Islamic scholar, Professor John Rodenbeck, the Beechey portrait depicts Hope dressed as a Turkish noble, not a Greek sailor. This discovery came about when Professor Rodenbeck carefully examined, then translated, the Arabic writing which is embroidered on the original waistcoat owned by Hope, which the author also wears in the Beechey portrait. The waistcoat and portrait, both of which are in the possession of the National Portrait Gallery reveal that Hope chose to have himself depicted as a rich Turkish Muslim standing before the most sacrosanct Islamic spot in Constantinople, the mosque of Abu Ayyub at Eyüp Sultan.

 Information and images from except for where noted.

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Prussian Blue – A Colourful History

What is Prussian Blue?

Considered the first artificial pigment, Prussian Blue was created in the 1700’s, ironically, by an artist seeking to create a new source for red paint. It rapidly gained popularity as first an artist’s medium, and later as a color fast dye. It is the traditional “blue” in blueprints and is used as an antidote for certain kinds of heavy metal poisoning

A sample of Prussian Blue pigment.
A sample of Prussian Blue pigment.

Prussian blue was probably synthesized for the first time by the paint maker Diesbach in Berlin around the year 1706. Most historical sources do not mention a first name of Diesbach. Only Berger refers to him as Johann Jacob Diesbach. It was named “Preußisch blau” and “Berlinisch Blau” in 1709 by its first trader. The pigment replaced the expensive Lapis lazuli and was an important topic in the letters exchanged between Johann Leonhard Frisch and the president of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, between 1708 and 1716. It is first mentioned in a letter written by Frisch to Leibniz, from March 31, 1708. Not later than 1708, Frisch began to promote and sell the pigment across Europe. By August 1709, the pigment had been termed “Preussisch blau”; by November 1709, the German name “Berlinisch Blau” had been used for the first time by Frisch. Frisch himself is the author of the first known publication of Prussian blue in the paper Notitia Coerulei Berolinensis nuper inventi in 1710, as can be deduced from his letters. Diesbach had been working for Frisch since about 1701.

In 1731, Georg Ernst Stahl published an account of the first synthesis of Prussian blue. The story involves not only Diesbach but also Johann Konrad Dippel. Diesbach was attempting to create a red lake pigment from cochineal but obtained the blue instead as a result of the contaminated potash he was using. He borrowed the potash from Dippel, who had used it to produce his “animal oil”. No other known historical source mentions Dippel in this context. It is therefore difficult to judge the reliability of this story today. In 1724, the recipe was finally published by John Woodward.

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James Gillray: Regency Caricaturist

507px-JamesgillrayportraitJames Gillray (13 August 1756 or 1757 – 1 June 1815), was a British caricaturist and printmaker famous for his etched political and social satires, mainly published between 1792 and 1810.

He was born in Chelsea. His father, a native of Lanark, had served as a soldier, losing an arm at the Battle of Fontenoy, and was admitted, first as an inmate, and afterwards as an outdoor pensioner, at Chelsea Hospital. Gillray commenced life by learning letter-engraving, at which he soon became adept. This employment, however, proved irksome to James, so he wandered about for a time with a company of strolling players. After a very checkered experience he returned to London and was admitted as a student in the Royal Academy, supporting himself by engraving, and probably issuing a considerable number of caricatures under fictitious names. His caricatures are almost all in etching, some also with aquatint, and a few using stipple technique.

None can correctly be described as engravings, although this term is often loosely used to describe them. Hogarth’s works were the delight and study of his early years. Paddy on Horseback, which appeared in 1779, is the first caricature which is certainly his. Two caricatures on Admiral Rodney’s naval victory at the Battle of the Saintes, issued in 1782, were among the first of the memorable series of his political sketches.

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“Pinkie”: The Story Behind the Painting

the fashions of childhood

Pinkie is the traditional title for a portrait of 1794 by Thomas Lawrence in the permanent collection of the Huntington Library at San Marino, California where it hangs opposite The Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough. These two works are the centerpieces of the institute’s art collection, which specialises in 18th-century English portraiture. The painting is an elegant depiction of Sarah Barrett Moulton, who was about eleven years old when painted. Her direct gaze and the loose, highly-movemented brushwork give the portrait a lively immediacy.

Pinkie, by Thomas Lawrence, 1794, around the same time as the "Rice Portrait" of Jane Austen (1788).
Pinkie, by Thomas Lawrence, 1794, around the same time as the “Rice Portrait” of Jane Austen (1788).

Sarah Goodin Barrett Moulton was born on 22 March 1783, in Little River, St. James, Jamaica. She was the only daughter and eldest of the four children of Charles Moulton, a merchant from Madeira, and his wife Elizabeth. Sarah was baptised on 29 May 1783, bearing the names Sarah Goodin Barrett in honour of her aunt, also named Sarah Goodin Barrett, who had died as an infant in 1781. She was a descendant of Hersey Barrett, who had arrived in Jamaica in 1655 with Sir William Penn and by 1783, the Barretts were wealthy landowners, slave owners, and exporters of sugar cane and rum. Inside her family, she was called Pinkie or Pinkey.

By the time Sarah was six, her father had left the family and her mother was left to raise the children, Sarah and her brothers Edward (1785–1857) and Samuel (1787–1837), with the help of her relatives. In September 1792, Sarah and her brothers sailed to England to get a better education. Sarah was sent to Mrs Fenwick’s school at Flint House, Greenwich, along with other children from Jamaican colonial families. On 16 November 1793 Sarah’s grandmother, Judith Barrett, wrote from Jamaica to her niece Elizabeth Barrett Williams, then living on Richmond Hill in Surrey, asking her to commission a portrait of ‘my dear little Pinkey … as I cannot gratify my self with the Original, I must beg the favour of You to have her picture drawn at full Length by one of the best Masters, in an easy Careless attitude’. Sarah probably began sitting for Lawrence, painter-in-ordinary to George III, at his studio in Old Bond Street soon after the receipt of this letter on 11 February 1794. Continue reading “Pinkie”: The Story Behind the Painting

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Sailor’s Valentines: A gift of Love

Let’s start this look at Sailor’s Valentines with a poem;
The distant climes may us divide
to think on you shall be my pride
The Winds and Waves may prove unkind
In me no change you’ll ever find.
A magic spell will bind us fast
And make me love you to the last
Let Cupid then your heart incline
to take me for your Valentine!
Sailor’s Valentine – “A Present/Think of Me”, shell, cedar, glass, metal, cotton, tintype, ca. 1895. Courtesy of Strong Museum.

Jane Austen’s brothers, Francis and Charles, often sailed in the East Indies. Is it possible that one of them might have brought back a ‘Sailor’s Valentine’ for his sweetheart or wife? It is thought that by 1820, the craze for these treasures had reached a peak that would last through the Victorian era.

A Regency needlework silk picture- “The Sailor’s Farewell”, depicting a Tar leaving a weeping woman in front of a domestic setting with stumpwork trees.

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Illustrating Jane Austen: The Artist’s Challenge

“These are done by [Elinor],” said he; “and you, as a man of taste, will, I dare say, be pleased with them. I do not know whether you ever happened to see any of her performances before, but she is in general reckoned to draw extremely well.”
-Sense and Sensibility

Several years ago, Cassandra Chouinard worked with the Jane Austen Centre, to illustrate our comissioned novella, There Must be Murder, by Margaret C. Sullivan. Her charming illustrations brought Jane Austen (and Ms. Sullivan’s) characters to life and we were delighted when we heard that she had again illustrated an Austen novel– this time, Sense and Sensibility, for the online publisher, Girlebooks. Here, she tells us about the challenges she faced as she brought this novel to life.

Cassi, please tell us about your background in art.
I must have started drawing once I developed the manual dexterity required for holding a crayon instead of eating it because I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing.  After many childhood years of appallingly crude and nonsensical scribblerish, I thought about becoming an artist (and not a cowgirl).  In high school, I practiced painting in oils with the guidance of my art teacher, Daphne Dain, and then I explored other media while not completing a degree in Fine Arts.  Mainly I’ve drawn a bunch of cartoons and portraits and animals.

Tell us about your background with drawing Jane Austen-related scenes. When did you first read Jane Austen? When did you first start drawing Austen-inspired art? Do you ever draw Jane Austen-inspired work for fun?
I used to draw a LOT of period subject matter, particularly clothing, but not just Regency.  I went through a deep Medieval/Renaissance obsession in my earlier teens, and then I immersed myself in the Victorian Era and touched the Regency Era, and then I doodled more of the latter while meandering through the 17th and 18th centuries for several years.   I also sewed and did some costuming;  I still have a yellow Empire dress I’d made.  About this time, I was drawing a little portrait series of famous people, including Jane Austen…I guess I was nineteen or twenty when I first drew her.

I’d first read her books a few years earlier while I was in high school; unfortunately I don’t remember which novel I read first, nor if it was a required reading or just something I’d picked up randomly, but I liked it and I skimmed through a few other Austen novels, including Sense and Sensibility.  I was an especially fast and careless reader as an adolescent mainly because I had to know asap if the heroine got her guy.  And, truth be told, I remember thinking then that Marianne was so amazing and there wasn’t too much wrong with Willoughby except that he was kind of bland and wishy-washy—I guess I’d completely skipped over the part about Eliza!  Actually, I found the whole book kind of bland then: my favourite was P&P even before the mini series with Colin Firth came out.  I loved Austen’s dialogue but those poor Dashwood girls did a lot of waiting around.  However, a lot of the humour was lost on me then and it was very interesting to finally notice it while rereading the novel umpteen years later.  It was like a completely different book!  I’d also initially failed to consider the horror of sitting in a room for hours at a time trying to make conversation with the same disagreeable people day in and day out.

What do you like and dislike about Sense and Sensibility?
I like the wit, and I dislike the relative paucity of breech-ripping derring-do action but only because I sometimes found it difficult to find exciting stuff to illustrate.  There is a lot going on in that book, many undercurrents of drama and satire.

How did you decide which scenes of Sense and Sensibility to illustrate? Is there anything about the novel that makes it easier or harder to illustrate?
To expand upon the previous answer: there are great subtleties to be observed among people conversing but I could have conveyed this better.  I’ve been thinking of how my illustrations could have been improved and I’ve decided that more close-ups would have been appropriate.

I drew what interested me.  I was a coward though because there were a few drawings that I wanted to draw but just couldn’t manage for whatever reason.  Either I couldn’t picture them, or I struggled with the composition and lost, or I felt that I couldn’t match the tone of the book.  And, by the end, I was just plain lazy.  There should have been a parting illustration of Elinor and Edward.  That’s the big one that got away.

Mr and Mrs John Dashwood

My main goals were to portray the confinement of Society juxtaposed with the expansiveness of the outdoor walks Marianne enjoyed, and to depict the waning of Marianne’s appearance.  For some reason, this fascinated me.  Elinor in many cases is the true heroine of the book but it is Marianne who changes most visibly.  Although, come to think of it, if I had drawn more detailed portraits, I could have depicted Elinor growing ever so slightly more anxious.  That would have been superb and I’m sorry I didn’t think of it at the time.  At any rate, I took great delight in extending Jane’s more cutting characterizations: the elder Miss Steele = vapid, Lucy Steele = rodent-like cunning, Robert Ferrars = ridiculous, and so on.


What inspired you visually for the illustrations? For instance, did you have a particular film adaptation or actor in mind at any point?
It had been a while since I’d seen Emma Thompson’s film adaptation and I decided to stay away from that, as well as previous illustrations as much as possible in order to thwart my quasi-plagiaristic sponge-like tendencies. I tend to remember stuff I’ve seen and then forget that I’d seen it and not imagined it. This can be very embarrassing.  Instead, I tried to glean as much as I could from the book itself and incubate my own vision of each character accordingly.   Admittedly, I have no doubt that some of the faces in the book were from anonymous people I’d seen in public.  I try not to stare at strangers, but it happens and so I’ve invested in some mirrored sunglasses.  Maybe one day many years ago, I was on a bus or subway or wherever watching an old woman with a pinched face scowling at some noisy child, and now she is Mrs. Ferrars.

Your “portrait” of Jane Austen is striking. What was your thought process behind the portrait?
I think that her sister’s portrait gives a surprisingly lot of information.  It’s not the most polished work, but it strikes me as being a compilation of spending many years with Jane, thousands upon thousands of conversations and shared moments rolled onto a piece of paper.   I sat and stared at it for ages, then I let it roll around in my mind for eons, then I drew what came out.  It was rather rough and I ended up having to do a lot of digital editing to make it presentable, although I feel that some of the raw energy was lost in this stage.  I used to draw a lot of portraits—for a couple of summers, I had a stall in an outdoor market and drew anybody who sat and paid, as well as plenty of people who didn’t–and out of hundreds (thousands?) of people I’ve drawn, there were a few people that I just couldn’t draw.  Their appearance depended more on their character and animation than actual bone structure and, in a few cases, I knew the person too well to step back and see their physical appearance clearly.  Cassandra’s portrait reminded me of that.

I imagine Jane Austen as this smallish fine-boned keen-eyed woman who had a very distinct expression at times (particularly when she was amused by something that very few others even noticed), but who was otherwise almost nondescript.  Unless you exchanged a glance with her, you would take a long time to notice her in an assembly.

Cassandra Chouinard is a Canadian artist who has drawn quite a few things ranging from people to pets to microscopic organisms.  She has enjoyed working on several collaborations with Margaret C. Sullivan, most recently a new edition of Sense and Sensibility.