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Jane Austen News – Issue 67

The Jane Austen News is - move to Bath!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Jane Austen Avoids Clichés

New Jane Austen portraitAmong many others, one of the statistics writer Ben Blatt has included in his new book, Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve: The Literary Quirks and Oddities Of Our Most Loved Authors, is the number of clichés famous authors use in every 100,000 words.

Using modern technology to complete lots of complicated statistical calculations he has discovered that Jane Austen used 45 clichés per 100,000 words, Virginia Woolf 62, and Khaled Hussaini 71. This is relatively few when compared with the likes of James Patterson (160 per 100,000 words), Tom Wolfe (142 per 100,000 words), and Salman Rushdie (131 per 100,000 words).

An interesting statistic from a fun book, but at the Jane Austen News it did make us wonder – is part of the reason that Jane has so few because clichés simply weren’t as prevalent at the time when she was writing? After all, there weren’t nearly as many books being published then as there are now. Then again, perhaps Jane was just too filled with inspiration to need them!


Five Reasons to Follow Jane to Bath!

In the Financial Times Property Listings this week was an article promoting Bath as an incredible place to live, and advising readers to follow in Jane’s footsteps and become a resident of the city. The five reasons to live in Bath were:

  1. Wonderful views (Bath skyline and the rooftop pool of the Thermae Spa got special references)
  2. It’s commutable to London (90 minute train journey from Bath Spa to London Paddington)
  3. It’s a stable investment (In the past five years, prime property prices in Bath have increased 24.4 per cent)
  4. It has a thriving arts scene (Festivals, theatres, museums, Jane Austen….)
  5. Country get-aways close by (The exclusive Babington House to name only one)

The Financial Times kept to just the five reasons, but we can think of plenty more!


 Rarely Seen Jane Austen Portrait on Show  

In 1869, Rev James Edward Austen-Leigh (Jane Austen’s nephew) commissioned a portrait of her from the artist James Andrews to accompany his Memoir Of Jane Austen, the influential, first full-length biography of Jane to be written. The portrait was snapped up by a private collector for £164,500 at an auction in London in 2013. However as part of an exhibition to mark the bicentenary of Jane’s death, the portrait will be returning to the UK and will form part of an exhibition running at at The Gallery in Winchester Discovery Centre, from May 13th to July 24th. The exhibition will also feature manuscripts of some of her early writings, including a spoof History Of England, Austen’s silk pelisse coat (featuring a pattern of oak leaves), her purse and her sewing materials case.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 67

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Jane Austen Waxwork now in Bath England

Jane Austen WaxworkThe Amazing Jane Austen Waxwork at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath

Although not breaking news, we thought you’d be interested in this article about the Jane Austen Waxwork which has appeared in Wikipedia.

It contains lots of background info on the waxwork creation and the development of the original portrait by Melissa Dring.

For the full article in Wikipedia press here

Based upon the 2002 portrait, the wax figure’s creation was undertaken by the internationally-renowned portrait sculptor Mark Richards, who had previously created busts of Eric Cantona and Sir Arthur Marshall, as well as a full-life bronze of The Queen and Prince Philip. He was also responsible for designing the 2011 Royal Wedding five pound coin. During the three year process it took to create the Jane Austen figure, Richards worked closely with Melissa Dring, along with hair and color artist Nell Clarke, formerly of Madame Tussaud’s, and BAFTA award-winning designer Andrea Galer. The latter, dressing the completed figure in authentic period costume.

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The Bandeau: Hairbands, Regency Style

The Bandeau: Hairbands, Regency Style

During Austen’s era, fashion leaders looked to the past for inspiration. Anything that resembled ancient Rome or Greece was bound to be popular, from sandals and nymph like gowns, to short hair cuts for ladies, like the Titus or Brutus.

The woman in this painting from Pompeii wears a narrow ribbon bandeau.
The woman in this painting from Pompeii wears a narrow ribbon example.

One accessory that remained popular from the late 1700’s through mid 1800’s, was the bandeau (plural=bandeaux). The name comes from the French word for “strip” and  involved wrapping ribbon, pearls or a length of fabric though one’s hairstyle, or around one’s head (sometimes even the forehead). The result was often styled “à la Grecque”, no doubt heightening it’s appeal all the more.

Continue reading The Bandeau: Hairbands, Regency Style

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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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The Fashion of Portrait Miniatures

portrait miniatures

Portrait Miniatures

“Oh, Elinor!” she cried, “I have such a secret to tell you about Marianne. I am sure she will be married to Mr Willoughby very soon.”

“You have said so,” replied Elinor, “almost every day since they first met on Highchurch Down; and they had not known each other a week, I believe, before you were certain that Marianne wore his picture round her neck; but it turned out to be only the miniature of our great uncle.”
Sense and Sensibility

 

In 1761 King George III gave his bride a wedding gift of a tiny portrait miniature of himself. Little did he know he was inspiring a fashion. When the Queen posed for a full-size portrait wearing the miniature on a pearl bracelet, the fashionable of the day took note, and the fad took off.

The upper classes swarmed to have their own miniatures done, and a few artists became known for such work. Richard Cosway was possibly the most prolific and successful miniaturist, counting the Prince of Wales, among many others, as a patron.

Portrait miniatures were being produced all over Europe, but nothing paralleled the popularity it found in Britain, especially between around 1769 to 1830. In short, it was a favored Regency form of expression and decoration. The practice of making miniature portraits began as a way for monarchs and other members of the court to produce likenessess which could be given away, mostly for diplomatic purposes. Less costly than full portraits and much more portable, they were imminently practical in an age without photography. They soon became treasured as precious objects, however, and put in opulent settings of gold, pearls and ivory.

Their sizes ranged from as small as 1×1 and a quarter inch to 7x 4 with every variation in between. Most were oval, but there was variation in shape as well as their manner of being worn close to the body.

portrait miniatures

In addition to a bracelet, for instance, portrait miniatures were often worn as a necklace, on a watch fob, or as a brooch. During the Regency, it was no longer only royalty who commissioned them, but an increasing number of the middle class. The main reason for having or giving one away? To keep loved ones close at heart. What better way to remember one’s love than by sporting the likeness of the beloved? Miniatures were especially popular with sailors who would be at Sea for years on end. Only think of the circumstances surrounding Captain Benwick’s miniature Portrait in Persuasion!

An interesting variation of portrait miniatures was the Lover’s Eye–a tiny portrait of one whole eye! Miniscule and more intimate than a full portrait, the eye was considered the window to the soul–thus being given an eye likeness was a token of intimacy that “outranked” the usual miniature. In addition, even secret lovers could safely exchange these, since anonymity was guaranteed.

portrait miniatures In 1786 the prince of Wales (the future Regent) paid five guineas for eye miniatures of himself and Mrs. Fitzherbert, which were encased in gold lockets. Later the prince had another eye miniature made and even one of his mouth, presumably to give to Mrs. Fitz. And before his death in 1830, though he had abandoned her in life, the King insisted upon being buried with the miniature of Mrs. Fitzherbert around his neck; in effect, close to his heart. The Duke of Wellington, to be safe, checked the corpse before burial. Sure enough, the miniature, set with diamonds, was there.

Other uses for the portrait miniature were as tools for grief and mourning, in which the deceased would be remembered as they were in life; or as statements of deep emotional states, such as melancholia, in which the subject would most likely rest his or her head on one hand. The sentimental usage of miniatures as love tokens or means of remembrance, however, is largely what spurred their popularity in the past, just as photos are wildly popular for such reasons today.

The miniatures’ popularity peaked at about 1830 and then declined quickly with the advent of photography. The caliber of the artwork on them is no less superb than on larger works of art, and today they are museum pieces and heirlooms. Often these little works of sentiment are the only pictoral representation we have of historical figures, like Tom LeFroy, Jane Austen’s first Love. Without Portrait Miniatures he would only be a name lost to history.


Linore Rose Burkard writes Inspirational Regency Romance as well as articles on Regency Life, Homeschooling, and Self-Improvement. She publishes a monthly eZine “Upon My Word!” (website). Ms. Burkard graduated from the City University of New York with a Magna Cum Laude degree in English Literature, and now lives in Ohio with her husband and five children.

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A New Jane Austen Portrait by Melissa Dring

New Portrait of Jane Austen

A New Jane Austen Portrait

Jane Austen portrait
New portrait of Jane Austen

Just how do you begin a new portrait of the author so many years after her death? What did Jane Austen really look like?

Forensic artist Melissa Dring takes up a commission by David Baldock to use contemporary eye-witness accounts of Miss Austen’s features and character to produce an authentic Jane Austen portrait for the the many visitors interested in what the renowned author really looked like.

Melissa uses here experience of working with the police in facial reconstruction to put together an image that she says is as close as it can be to a definitive likeness. Her work has been internationally recognised and Melissa is in demand as a keynote speaker.

Creating the new Jane Austen portrait from forensic sources.

We know you want to see how she did it so follow the link below to a fascinating article which was first published in ‘Jane Austen’s Regency World’ magazine in early 2003.

New Portrait of Jane Austen

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The Rice Portrait

In the gallery there were many family portraits, but they could have little to fix the attention of a stranger. Elizabeth walked on in quest of the only face whose features would be known to her.
-Pride and Prejudice

For years there has been (some say, unnecessary) controversy over a charming portrait of an unnamed girl in white- clearly she is a member of the Austen family…but is she THE Austen we all so want her to be? With few known likenesses of Jane Austen to compare this too, it seems reasonable to accept the word of family members who knew Jane Austen—yet there are those—costume historians, authors, and even the head of the National Portrait Gallery (though his predecessors believed it to be authentic) who refuse to accept the “Rice Portrait” as it is called, as a genuine article.

The current owners of the portrait, the Rice Family, descendants of Jane’s brother Francis, firmly believe the portrait to be genuine and have spent the last several years tracing the history (provenance) of this portrait, discovering, along the way, clues that would surely have sent Sherlock Holmes hard fast on the trail of this mystery. Here, in her own words, is the history of the Rice Portrait, by it’s owner, Anne Rice:

This story, and the portrait of Jane Austen started in the summer of 1788 when George Austen took his wife, and his two young daughters, Cassandra, aged 15, and Jane aged not quite 13 years old to visit their Great Uncle Francis at his him called The Red House in Sevenoaks, Kent. Francis Austen was an enormously rich and successful man, he had been head of Lincoln’s Inn in London, and owned properties in Essex, as well as in Kent. He was an expert in the settling, and safeguarding of large estates by entail, and by inheritance, and counted some of the most important families in England amongst his clients; the Dorsets, the Berkeleys, and Cravens, amongst others.

In 1788, he was 90 years old, having been born in 1698 during the reign of William III. His second wife Jane had been Jane Austen’s godmother, but was now dead, and Francis was indulging himself in his old age as a benevolent family patriarch. Ozais Humphrey, much patronized by Francis’ main employer and patron, the Duke of Dorset, had already painted him twice; once at the Duke’s request, and again at his own request for The Red House.
Francis had always been a kind and generous patron of his nephew George Austen. It is hardly surprising that he was persuaded, or perhaps cajoled, into commissioning portraits of his two great nieces from his friend Ozias, who was rather down on his luck at the time, having returned from India in the spring of 1788, with little success and somewhat short of money. Ozias always demanded half of his fee for his portraits “up front”. His accounts show that he charged about 13 guineas first, and the second half on completion. He made a note of Francis Austen’s death in 1791, which implies money owing to him.

The family has always believe that after the portraits of Jane and Cassandra were commissioned in the summer of 1788, Ozias Humphrey stayed at Godmersham Park that autumn, and there executed sketches and drawings of the backgrounds of the park. On the 7th of October that year, Edward Austen-Knight was 21 years old, and again, family tradition has it that he returned from the first leg of his Grand Tour for his Coming of Age celebrations with his adoptive parents. His own portrait, also signed OH, places him within the Godmersham grounds in front of a large English oak tree, with the old temple ruins in the background, along with graves from the Godmersham churchyard.

Jane’s background includes the river Stour that flows to the left of the big house, and in both pictures the same autumnal colors are used, as well as the depiction of stormy skies. It’s interesting to note the stance in both of the portraits, the angles of the cane and parasol are almost identical. Ozias having been trained as a miniaturist and a very fine one, had difficulty in many of his paintings in the execution of limbs painted in large. Note the elongation of Edward’s arm holding his hat and Jane’s elongated arm holding the parasol.

As with much of the inherited Austen artifacts and documents, over time they were split amongst the family members. The last descendant of the Kippington Austen line may well have owned the portrait of Cassandra. May Harrison lived out her final years in Grasse, France and on November 28, 1952, she wrote to R. W. Chapman saying she owned by descent, a portrait which she believed could be Jane Austen. Mrs. Harrison’s nephew remembers her possessing a painting of a girl dressed in white, but it was not always hung as she rotated her pictures. No one seems to have considered that this could have been the portrait of Cassandra.

As was the usual custom, Ozias would have finished the portraits in his London studio, and kept them until he received payment for the second tranche of the paintings. Thomas Knight is believed to have commissioned Edward’s portrait (Ozias certainly copied the Romney portrait of his wife, Catherine Knight, for him. It is a small, oval miniature that he could carry with him.) Uncle Francis died in 1791, and the two portraits were inherited by his eldest son, Francis Motley Austen, the second owner of the portrait…

The rest of this story can be found at www.janeaustenriceportrait.co.uk.

You can purchase the related book ‘The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen‘ by RJ Wheeler at our online gift shop.

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Ozias Humphrey (1742-1810)

Ozias Humphrey (8 September 1742 – 9 March 1810) was a leading English painter of portrait miniatures, later oils and pastels, of the 18th century. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1791, and in 1792 he was appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons to the King (i.e. pastels).

Born and schooled in Honiton, Devon, Ozias Humphrey was attracted by the gallery of casts opened by the Duke of Richmond and came to London to study art at Shipley’s school. He also studied art in Bath (under Samuel Collins, taking over his practice in 1762); in Bath, he lodged with Thomas Linley. As a young artist, his talent was encouraged by Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds, among others. His problems with his sight, the result of a fall from his horse in the early 1770s, which ultimately led to blindness, forced him to give up miniature painting and paint larger works in oils and pastel.

Ozias Humphrey travelled to Italy in 1773 with his great friend George Romney, stopping en route at Knole, near Sevenoaks in Kent, where the Duke of Dorset commissioned several works from him. His stay in Italy lasted until 1777.

On his return, his numerous subjects included George Stubbs (1777), fellow academician Dominic Serres, and the chemist Joseph Priestley. He compiled a fifty-page manuscript, A Memoir of George Stubbs, based on what Stubbs had related to him; it is the only contemporary biography of the “Painter of the English Enlightenment”. This was edited and privately published in the 1870s and republished in 2005. He also knew William Blake and commissioned copies of some of his illustrated books.

From 1785 to 1787, he travelled to India, producing many miniatures and sketches. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1791. In 1792 he was appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons (Pastels) to the King. Most of his many portraits of the Royal Family are still in the Royal Collection.

 

In 1788 Ozias Humphrey painted what may, perhaps be his most famous painting, a portrait claimed to be of a young Jane Austen, known as the “Rice” portrait after its current owners. This portrait, painted, so family legend goes, was a “sister” piece to a similar portrait of Cassandra (now lost) and the famous portrait of Edward Austen-Knight on his return from the continent. The portrait of Edward has never been questioned, but the full length portrait of Jane was, for a time, misattributed to Johann Zoffany, which has caused later researchers to doubt it’s authenticity and suggest that the “sitter” is another member of the Austen family.

Still, family members who knew and remembered Jane did not seem to question that this portrait was indeed Jane Austen of Pride and Prejudice fame, painted about the time that her juvenilia was being written. The current owners, the Rice family, have spent a great deal of time authenticating the portrait, tracings it’s origins from its painting (perhaps at Uncle Francis Austen’s home, Sevenoaks?) to its current homes with them. Their research can be found www.janeaustenriceportrait.co.uk. Due to the rather recent controversial attribution of the sitter, this portrait failed to reach its minimum estimate in a Christies auction in April 2007, and was withdrawn from sale. No doubt its value will only increase with the passing of time.

In 1797 Ozias Humphrey’s sight finally failed, leaving him blind, and he died in 1810 in Hampstead, north London.

The bulk of his possessions came into the hands of his natural son, William Upcott, the book collector. From him the British Museum acquired a large number of papers relating to Humphry.