January 31, 2013

At the exhibitions

      In May, Jane went to stay with [Henry] in Sloane Street. Henry took her to town in his carriage, and the journey, in perfect weather, was delightful. The Chawton family had provided for the refreshment on the way; they ate three of the buns that had been put up, and when they arrived at Sloane Street, Mr. and Mrs. Tilton drank tea with them and were offered the remaining three. ...
      But Henry was proposing to leave Sloane Street and live over the bank at 10, Henrietta Street; preparations were being made already to fit up the upper floors for him. Jane went down there the following day, and told Cassandra:  'I ... walked into No. 10, which is all dirt and confusion, but in a very promising way;' ... After that she and Henry went to an exhibition of water-colours in Spring Gardens. Jane amused herself by seeing if any of the portraits would do for Jane or Elizabeth Bennet.  She said:  'I was very well pleased -- particularly (pray tell Fanny) with a small portrait of Mrs. Bingley, excessively like her. I went in hopes of seeing one of her sister, but there was no Mrs. Darcy; -- perhaps I may find here in the Great Exhibition which we shall go to if we have time.' 'Mrs. Bingley's,' she said, 'is exactly herself, size, shaped face, features and sweetness; there never was a greater likeness. She is dressed in a white gown with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I have always supposed, that green was a favourite colour with her. I daresay Mrs. D. will be in yellow.'

      But Jane went through the whole of the Great Exhibition, and an exhibition of Sir Joshua Reynolds', without finding a resemblance of Elizabeth in either; she said:  'I can only imagine that Mr. D. prizes any picture of her too much, to like it should be exposed to the public eye. -- I can imagine he would have that sort of feeling -- that mixture of love, pride and delicacy.'
from Jane Austen:  a biography, by Elizabeth Jenkins

{Dress for portrait sitting found here.}

1 comment:

Lisa May said...

More great passages from her letters. I love it that Jane Austen thought about Jane & Elizabeth's favorite colors - and I can completely see Mr Darcy refusing to have Elizabeth's picture on public display.