July 9, 2014

A new likeness?

'It is a very pleasing, sweet face, -- tho', I confess, to not thinking it much like the original; -- but that, the public will not be able to detect.'
 -- Cassy Esten Austen, quoted in Jane's Fame

Did you come across the news accounts (e.g., New Jane Austen waxwork uses forensic science to model 'the real Jane'about a waxwork 'portrait' of Jane Austen that was unveiled at the Jane Austen Center in Bath today?  

Fascinating!  Especially since I've been listening, off and on, again, to the audiobook version of Claire Harman's book Jane's Fame:  How Jane Austen Conquered the World, and I just heard her rather funny account of the Austen family's efforts to come up with an acceptable portrait of JA to include in her nephew's memoir. They eventually commissioned an artist to 'improve' the only front-facing portrait that existed, this sketch done by Cassandra Austen.

Funny, because Claire Harman describes how JA's appearance went from 'tetchy' to  'not quite so bovine' to 'slightly uncomfortable rather than just stupid' as the new portrait and the engraving made from it for publication evolved.

I think she looks rather nice, now that we've met her.


Lilac In May said...

It captures a certain intelligent mischievousness!

JoAnn said...

I missed this story... thanks for sharing!

CGrace said...

How fun to actually see Jane Austen! Are you participating in the Austen in August challenge? I've decided to go ahead and do it. I'm looking forward to reading some biographies about Austen next month.

Vintage Reading said...

I like that image, too. Unless another portrait emerges I suppose we will never know what she really looked like. Would be fascinating to know what was in the letters that Cassandra destroyed.