This “Halloween” weekend, JASNA members and guests gather in Portland, Oregon for the Annual General Meeting; 2010’s Theme, as you can see, centers on Northanger Abbey.
Must admit, thinking about it, I still like my paper proposal which talked about bringing into society the two “Debs” of 1818: Catherine Morland, heroine of NA, and my own sweet Augusta Smith – who was presented at Court. Her sister Emma wrote extensively about Augusta’s court dress, as well as Mamma’s; and some conversation from the Queen (Charlotte, consort to George III) and the Princess Elisabeth — Augusta, Mrs Smith, Queen Charlotte and the princesses all had the same art teacher: Miss (later Mrs) Meen. They were instructed in the fine art of painting flowers. Catherine Morland’s debut, of course, came in entry into Bath society. Austen captures well the ‘crush’ of such social gatherings, as well as the hesitant demeanor of a young woman’s foray into society and the company of strangers.
But my thoughts don’t stay long with the 2010 AGM; no! 2011 — and my paper. The ideas swirl around, for I like audience interaction and want them to see and hear art and music from the period. One painting I will be sure to talk about: The Sisters, by Sir William Beechey (the Huntington Museum of Art, in West Virginia). Readers of this blog can find my posts about this work (post 1; post 2): for its description fits ALMOST perfectly a description of a Beechey work portraying Mary and Elizabeth GOSLING. But, the younger sister seated at the piano, the elder enjoying the moment of interaction with the viewer, this piece credibly could portray Elinor and Marianne Dashwood!
I’m surprised no publisher has planted The Sisters on an S&S cover yet…