Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Seeing Jane Austen

From The New Yorker:
Last week, researchers unveiled new evidence suggesting that a long-disputed portrait does, in fact, depict a thirteen-year-old Jane Austen. The painting in question is a picture of a very pretty girl with dark eyes and pursed lips, wearing a cloudy-white Empire-waist dress. Since the late nineteenth century, members of a branch of Austen’s family have contended that it is a portrait of their famous ancestor—but historians have disputed the claim, saying that the style of the girl’s dress was not in fashion until Austen was twenty years old.

The new evidence comes from early photos of the portrait (taken in 1910, before the painting underwent several restorations) that reveal Austen’s name, the name of the painter, and the date 1789, at which time Austen was thirteen. If the girl in the painting really is Jane Austen then the portrait is the only professionally painted likeness of her—and it joins a sketch by Austen’s sister and, possibly, an unauthenticated drawing discovered last year by the Austen biographer Paula Byrne, among the only known portraits of the author created during her lifetime. These unearthed pictures, historical debates, and “Blow-Up”-style investigations reinforce the celebrity aura that has developed around Austen in recent years. (Read entire article.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

I was expecting the day when claims would be made that she never existed, same as Shakespere. lol