Pictures of Jane Austen
Readers of Jane Austen have long wished for a good picture of their favorite author. Borrowing the words of Emma Woodhouse concerning a likeness of Harriet Smith, Austen admirers might well “give any money” for such a portrait. The only authenticated picture of Jane Austen is a small pencil and watercolor sketch made by her sister, Cassandra, which is displayed in low light and protected by a cover in the National Portrait Gallery in London. An engraving based on Cassandra’s drawing was created to illustrate the 1870 Memoir of Jane Austen written by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. That engraving is often reproduced as Jane Austen’s portrait. In recent years other depictions have been advanced as portraits of the author, with each candidate attracting both passionate advocates and doubting critics.
Collected here are essays and articles from JASNA publications examining these possible portraits of Jane Austen. Readers longing for a “good picture” may judge for themselves whether one has finally been found.
Reading About Pictures of Jane Austen
“‘There She is At Last’: The Byrne Portrait Controversy” by Deborah Kaplan. Persuasions 34 (2012): 121-33.
“Visualizing Jane Austen and Jane Austen Visualizing” by Jeffrey Nigro. Persuasions On-Line 29.1 (Win. 2008).
“Christie’s Auction of the Controversial Rice Portrait of Jane Austen” by Elsa Solender. JASNA website, Apr. 2007.
“James Stanier Clarke’s Portrait of Jane Austen” by Joan Klingel Ray and Richard James Wheeler. Persuasions 27 (2005): 112-18.
“Portraits of Jane Austen” by Helen C. Denman. Persuasions 3 (1981): 12-13.