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Jane Austen News – Issue 151

The Jane Austen News and a new note

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Note Discovery Proves Jane Austen Portrait Authentic? 

The portrait opposite has to be one of the most controversial images of Jane Austen that there is.

It’s known as the Rice Portrait, and for years the Rice family who own the portrait have been fighting to prove that it is in fact a portrait of a young Jane Austen. Now, an overlooked note has come to light which may help to prove once and for all in the Rice family’s favour that the portrait is a genuine original portrait of Jane.

Of the Rice Portrait, the Rices have always explained that it was commissioned from the portrait painter Ozias Humphry in 1788, when 12-year-old Jane and her sister Cassandra were taken to visit their great-uncle Francis in Kent. According to the Rice family, Humphry’s 1788 accounts (held at the British Library) show a bill to Francis Austen for 13 guineas. However, experts in the art world, especially some of those at the National Portrait Gallery, say that it could not be of Austen. They have said that the style of the dress dates it to later than 1800.

The unsigned note which has recently be rediscovered, and which helps to support the Rice family’s claim of authenticity, is believed to have been written by Jane Austen’s great-niece Fanny Caroline Lefroy. Kept in Austen’s writing desk, it had been overlooked, said John Nettlefold, son of the painting’s owner Anne Rice, until its current owner noticed the small brown envelope containing it was marked “history of the portrait of Jane Austen”.

The note reads as follows:

“The history of the portrait of Jane Austen now in the possession of Morland Rice her Gt nephew. Old Dr Newman, fellow of Magdalen years ago told him that he had a portrait of Jane Austen the novelist, that had been in his family many years. He stated that it was done at Bath when she was about 15 & he promised to leave him (Morland Rice) the picture.

A few months before Dr Newman died, he wrote to a friend of his (a Dr Bloxam) sending him a picture as a farewell present & added ‘I have another picture that I wish to go to your neighbour Morland Rice. This a portrait of Jane Austen the novelist by Zoffany. Her picture was given to my step-mother by her friend Colonel Austen of Kippendon [sic], Kent because she was a great admirer of her works.’”

The note names the artist of the painting as being Johann Zoffany, to whom the painting has been attributed in the past. The note is unsigned, but after looking at it next to other documents held in the Hampshire Record Office, the Rices and independent scholar Kelly M McDonald (who is researching the letters and diaries of Emma Austen-Leigh, who was the wife of Jane Austen’s nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh) are sure it is written by Fanny Caroline Lefroy.

John Nettlefold said that the letter “is written before there was any kind of issue. The problems only started in the 1930s … Unfortunately, there was then an institutional enmity towards it and it just got worse and worse.” He says that the letter is enough evidence to officially establish the painting as being an authentic portrait of Jane Austen.

So what next? Going forward, the Rice family wish to sell the portrait once/if it is officially certified as being of Austen. The family hopes that the portrait will come to be loves by Jane Austen fans and scholars worldwide.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 151

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Jane Austen News – Issue 64

The Jane Austen News has mail!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 Jane Austen Inspired Anti-Bullying Campaign 

Recently we had a nice surprise in the post: a collection of handmade letters from students of a language school in Greece, who made them as part of an anti-bullying campaign and as their way of honouring the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death.

The overall campaign is called ‘Keep Smiling: from children to children’ and the project was done for Valentine’s Day (they arrived late).

The children named their card and letter collection ‘Jane Austen v Bullies’. All the students range in age from juniors to teenagers, and they participated whilst being inspired by Jane’s quotes and becoming familiar with her life and works.

They want us to keep the cards “as a token of appreciation for the work we do in honour of a literary giant”, which we thought was such an incredibly kind gesture, and we loved reading them all so we thought you might too!


Win A Free Dinner With Darcy and Lizzy in Woking

The Lightbox, a charity-run cultural space, gallery and museum in Woking, Surrey in England, has its tenth anniversary this year, and so to celebrate this milestone The Lightbox are holding their first Lightbox Literary Festival (from Thursday 20th April – Sunday 23rd April). We mention this as, since this year is not only the tenth anniversary of the opening of The Lightbox but also the bicentenary of Jane’s death, The Lightbox is holding a specifically Austen-themed event.

For the event, named Jane Austen 200th Anniversary, The Lightbox’s resident chef will create a Regency inspired menu just for the evening. Three indulgent courses will include Georgian-age gems like Black Butter, Mrs Martin’s mashed turnips and Regency roasted pork & apples. Guests will be invited to sample several dishes from the banquet table.

Then, after dinner, guests will round off the themed evening with a screening of the 2005 film version of Pride & Prejudice, and every guest will leave with a Regency-inspired goody bag filled with a Jane Austen novel, Regency recipes and other literary goodies. The event takes place on Friday the 21st of April at 7:00pm and tickets cost £49.

However – on our Facebook page we’re currently running a competition which is offering one lucky winner two free tickets to the event. You can enter via our competition post here.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 64

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Jane Austen News – Issue 47

The Jane Austen News and a new note

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

Rare Portrait of Jane Austen Goes on Display

The Jane Austen News is - The Rice Portrait went on displayMembers of The Jane Austen Cambridge Group enjoyed a private viewing of an oil painting of Jane Austen, the ‘Rice Portrait’, at Queens’ College on Saturday (December 10) before the group’s annual lunch. They were also treated to a talk on the portrait’s origins and significance by researcher Ellie Bennett.

For the last ten years the group has celebrated Austen’s birthday with an annual lunch or dinner as near to December 16th, Jane Austen’s birthday, as possible. This year they had a special treat when the famous Rice Portrait was brought out of a vault in Switzerland for the occasion by owner Anne Rice and her son John. (Anne’s husband, the late Henry Rice, was a descendent of the Austen family, who died on July 18, 1817 and the portrait was passed down to him from the Austen family as part of the estate.)

There is some controversy around the portrait, as the National Portrait Gallery doesn’t believe the portrait is of Jane Austen, whereas other experts definitely think it is. The portrait was painted by Ozias Humphry in 1788 or 1789, and it is thought to be of Jane Austen at the age of 13.

It’s stunning. When you’re standing in front of it, the twinkle in her left eye. It’s like she’s looking at you. It’s quite incredible, you can’t see it and not be moved by it.

Vicki Smith, joint secretary of The Jane Austen Cambridge Group


Will Spain Have A Jane Austen Street? 

In the UK we at the Jane Austen News were delighted when it was announced that she would be appearing on the £10 bank screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-07-33-53note next year. It was also great news when we heard that a secondary school in Norwich was being named Jane Austen College. Now it seems that a street in León in Spain might be the next thing to be named after the great author.

As part of a widespread initiative across the country to be are replace Franco-era street names with those of influential women, León, in the northern part of the country, has asked the public to choose the new names they would like their streets to have from a list that includes Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, and Jane Austen. At the moment less than 10 percent of Spanish streets currently honour women, and, in Madrid, all but one of those that do are named for the Virgin Mary or a Catholic saint.


Austen Notes Worth Even More Than First Thought  

The Jane Austen News is on the Hunt for Jane fiversIn last week’s Jane Austen News, we said that the four new £5 notes which carry a miniature hidden engraving of Jane Austen on them could be worth, instead of just £5, £20,000! Since then, as more and more people have heard about the engravings, the price tag has more than doubled. The notes are now thought to be worth as much as £50,000!

The Austen engraving is visible to the naked eye but viewers will need a microscope to see it properly. Mr Short, the engraver behind the works, goes to great lengths to create his art on such a minuscule scale. One way he manages to engrave such tiny images is by working late at night – so he can’t hear the rumbling of traffic and be distracted by it. Another even more surprising thing he does in order to make his art, is to wear a stethoscope so he can hear the beating of his own heart. He then works between the beats so he remains perfectly still. Such dedication!


Love & Friendship Seventh Top Film of 2016  

   
Love & Friendship, directed by Whit Stillman and based on Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan (which she wrote at the age of loveetconly 19!), was released to UK cinemas on May 27th this year, and to cinemas around the world shortly afterwards. The film received rave reviews from film critics and Jane Austen fans alike, and it seems that it’s not only die-hard Austen fans who enjoyed it.

Love & Friendship has been named as the seventh best film of 2016 by the Guardian’s film team. It beat some of the most highly anticipated films of the year to get there, such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (26th on the list), and Deadpool (24th on the list). We at the Jane Austen News were delighted with the end film when we got to see it, and are so pleased that other film fans enjoyed it as much as we did.


Austen in Omaha 

Floral cup and saucerOn Saturday the 10th December, the Nebraska chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America, along with the Friends of Omaha Public Library, saw the 13th annual Jane Austen Tea (which they had sponsored) occur with great success at at W. Dale Clark Library in Omaha. Participants were asked to bring their favourite teacups to the event, and the festivities included “light English fare, tea and a talk by Barbara Trout, author of “Reflections of the Regency Period: Dressing with Accessories”.”

Congratulations to the Jane Austen fans in and around Omaha who made it and had a lovely afternoon of tea, book talk, and Jane Austen.


Jane Austen Day This Friday!    

This Friday (Friday the 16th of December) is Jane Austen’s birthday, and is also Jane Austen Day – a day dedicated to celebrating her life and achievements, and to telling as many people as possible about her amazing works.Jane Austen waxwork

This year marks 241 years since her birth in Steventon in Hampshire in England, and we’d love to hear from you if you’re doing anything to mark Jane Austen day. These are a few of our suggestions:

  • Watch your favourite Austen adaptation.
  • Wear Regency costume for the day (or maybe carry a reticule instead of a handbag for the day?).
  • Go for a long walk in the countryside (weather permitting…).
  • Sit by the fire and drink a glass of wine! This was after all one of Jane’s favourite pastimes.

Let us know what you’re up to, and happy Jane Austen Day!


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Jane Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Jane Austen Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop.

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George Stubbs

stubbsGeorge Stubbs (25 August 1724 – 10 July 1806) was an English painter, best known for his paintings of horses.

Stubbs was born in Liverpool, the son of a currier and leather merchant. Information on his life up to age thirty-five is sparse, relying almost entirely on notes made by fellow artist Ozias Humphry (himself famous for his portrait of Edward Austen-Leigh, as well as the Rice Portrait) towards the end of Stubbs’s life. Stubbs worked at his father’s trade until he was 15 or 16, and after his father’s death in 1741 was briefly apprenticed to a Lancashire painter and engraver named Hamlet Winstanley. He soon left as he objected to the work of copying to which he was set. Thereafter as an artist he was self-taught. In the 1740s he worked as a portrait painter in the North of England and from about 1745 to 1751 he studied human anatomy at York County Hospital. He had had a passion for anatomy from his childhood, and one of his earliest surviving works is a set of illustrations for a textbook on midwifery which was published in 1751.

In 1754 Stubbs visited Italy. Forty years later he told Ozias Humphry that his motive for going to Italy was, “to convince himself that nature was and is always superior to art whether Greek or Roman, and having renewed this conviction he immediately resolved upon returning home”. In 1756 he rented a farmhouse in the village of Horkstow, Lincolnshire, and spent 18 months dissecting horses, assisted by his common-law wife, Mary Spencer. He moved to London in about 1759 and in 1766 published The anatomy of the Horse. The original drawings are now in the collection of the Royal Academy.

Mares and Foals in a Landscape. 1763-68.
Mares and Foals in a Landscape. 1763-68.

Even before his book was published, Stubbs’s drawings were seen by leading aristocratic patrons, who recognised that his work was more accurate than that of earlier horse painters such as James Seymour, Peter Tillemans and John Wootton. In 1759 the 3rd Duke of Richmond commissioned three large pictures from him, and his career was soon secure. By 1763 he had produced works for several more dukes and other lords and was able to buy a house in Marylebone, a fashionable part of London, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Whistlejacket by George Stubbs (1724–1806) circa 1762
Whistlejacket by George Stubbs (1724–1806) circa 1762

His most famous work is probably Whistlejacket, a painting of a prancing horse commissioned by the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, which is now in the National Gallery in London. This and two other paintings carried out for Rockingham break with convention in having plain backgrounds. Throughout the 1760s he produced a wide range of individual and group portraits of horses, sometimes accompanied by hounds. He often painted horses with their grooms, whom he always painted as individuals. Meanwhile he also continued to accept commissions for portraits of people, including some group portraits. From 1761 to 1776 he exhibited at the Society of Artists, but in 1775 he switched his allegiance to the recently founded but already more prestigious Royal Academy.

A Lion Attacking a Horse, oil on canvas, 1770, by Stubbs. Yale University Art Gallery
A Lion Attacking a Horse, oil on canvas, 1770, by Stubbs. Yale University Art Gallery

Stubbs also painted more exotic animals including lions, tigers, giraffes, monkeys, and rhinoceroses, which he was able to observe in private menageries. He became preoccupied with the theme of a wild horse threatened by a lion and produced several variations on this theme. These and other works became well known at the time through engravings of Stubbs’s work, which appeared in increasing numbers in the 1770s and 1780s.

George IV when Prince of Wales, 1791
George IV when Prince of Wales, 1791

Stubbs also painted historical pictures, but these are much less well regarded. From the late 1760s he produced some work on enamel. In the 1770s Josiah Wedgwood developed a new and larger type of enamel panel at Stubbs’s request. Stubbs hoped to achieve commercial success with his paintings in enamel, but the venture left him in debt. Also in the 1770s he painted single portraits of dogs for the first time, while also receiving an increasing number of commissions to paint hunts with their packs of hounds. He remained active into his old age. In the 1780s he produced a pastoral series called Haymakers and Reapers, and in the early 1790s he enjoyed the patronage of the Prince of Wales, whom he painted on horseback in 1791. His last project, begun in 1795, was A comparative anatomical exposition of the structure of the human body with that of a tiger and a common fowl, fifteen engravings from which appeared between 1804 and 1806. The project was left unfinished upon Stubbs’s death at the age of 81 on 10 July 1806, in London.

Stubbs’s son George Townly Stubbs was an engraver and printmaker.


From Wikipedia.com

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Searching for Captain Wentworth: A Review

 

For those who love, time does not exist

 

searching for captain wentworthSearching for Captain Wentworth is unlike any Jane Austen inspired novel I’ve ever read. I suspect it’s unlike any Jane Austen novel ever written! Part love story, part time travel fantasy, part Austen biography, it’s all about the author’s (Jane Odiwe) love for Jane Austen and the city of Bath, her ‘Fairyland’ city.

Reading it (in 24 hours! I couldn’t put it down!) was like taking a walk with friends through old, familiar places. Jane’s use of Bath (both in the present and during the Regency) and Lyme, coupled with her deft weaving of historical fact and Austen lore, Austen novels (especially Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion) and films made for a book that felt like there was a cameo appearance on every page. It is truly a book written by someone who knows Austen’s life, novels and films inside out, and though any and all might enjoy the wonderful story she has crafted, for those in the “know”, Easter eggs abound, almost like the many inside jokes, shared by the Austen family, that made their way into Jane Austen’s writing.

Jane Odiwe’s descriptions of Bath, both past and present, make the city come alive, reviving happy memories for those who have visited the beautiful white limestone city, and painting a vivid tour of city highlights and must visit stops for anyone contemplating a visit. Equally compelling are the settings in Lyme Regis, from Cobb to country house to assembly room.

In the story, heroine Sophie Elliot moves into her great-aunt’s flat in Bath, while she recovers from a broken heart, determined to put the past behind her and move on with her life and writing. The house, adjacent to the home occupied by the Austen family in 1802, proves to be full of secrets and surprises, and once her adventure begins, she transports between present day Bath and a hopeful friendship with her new neighbor (and perhaps something more?) and 1802, where she slips into the life of her ancestor Sophie Elliot, and a friendship with Jane and Cassandra Austen.

searching for captain wentworth
Charles Austen’s portrait, the “Rice” Portrait of Jane Austen and a Regency Era inlaid rosewood box all feature prominently in the story.

When Charles Austen, a young Naval officer, enters the scene, Sophie’s life becomes decidedly complicated. Persuasion may be the initial inspiration for the story, a novel many feel was Jane Austen’s attempt to rewrite history in her own life, however, questions remain, “Can the past be changed? Should the past be changed? Are happy endings only to be found in fiction?” A rosewood box and pair of gloves may hold the key to all the secrets of the novel, and in finding them, Sophie discovers the truth about herself and her heart.

It is known that Jane Austen drew her characters from the traits she noticed in those around her, and recognizable characterizations abound including the snobbish Elliot family themselves…oh-so like their “fictional” counterparts. Conversations and scenes from Austen’s novels are woven together in new and unexpected ways, providing a canvas that the “real” Jane Austen might later use in her writing. Additional portrayals of Cassandra Austen, Charles Austen and even Henry and Eliza Austen ring true and offer glimpses of family life that are not only faithful to the recorded history we have, but also all any “ardent admirer” of Jane Austen’s works and life could hope for.

The magically beckoning gate in Sydney Gardens that transports Sophie into 1802.

Moving along at a brisk pace, the story jumps quickly from the present to the past and back again, and readers will visit the amusements, pleasure gardens and assembly rooms of Bath and Lyme and the countryside beyond in both 2012 and 1802. Odiwe cleverly ties up her threads by the end of her story, though readers are left to wonder if Sophie is the only one of her family to have enjoyed the company of L’amiable Jane…leaving room, perhaps, for future stories.

I, for one, certainly hope so!

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Paintbox Publishing (7 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 095457222X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954572228

Jane Odiwe is an author and an artist. She is completely obsessed with all things Austen and is the author of is the author of Mr Darcy’s Secret,  Lydia Bennet’s StoryWilloughby’s Return and the newly published Searching For Captain Wentwort. She lives with her husband and three children in North London and Bath, England.


Laura Boyle is fascinated by all aspects of Jane Austen’s life. She is the proprietor of Austenation: Regency Accessories, creating custom hats, bonnets, reticules and more for customers around the globe. Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends is her first book.

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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.

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