What Jane Austen Saw: the 1813 Reynolds Exhibition

August 10, 2013 at 11:10 am (history, jane austen, jasna, news, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , )


Being CHEST-DEEP in portraits this week, I was so excited to find two Janine Barchas-related websites. One, a 2012 “work-in-progress” page on the Aphra Behn.Org “interactive journal” (see also ABO’s new website); the other, her up-and-running “WHAT JANE SAW” website.

reynolds exhibition

Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will realize (quickly!) that my interest in Austen is only outstripped by my fascination with my SMITH & GOSLING families. What JANE AUSTEN SAW is surely also WHAT THE SMITHS & GOSLINGS SAW!

Emma’s youthful diaries are filled with references to exhibitions; alas, no 1813 diary written by Emma exists (that I know of….). BUT: An 1813 diary exists for Eliza Chute.

Unfortunately, Eliza was less likely to be in London than her sister Augusta Smith, and nothing exists at HRO (Hampshire Record Office) for Mamma for any of the years comprising the decade of the 1810s.  Mary Lloyd Austen also has a diary for 1813, but, like Eliza Chute, was even less likely to be in London during “the season”.

If I had been given the nod by JASNA to visit England this summer, my project would have centered around these very diaries! Alas, again, it was not to be. So if anyone in England, near Winchester, wants to pop in, take a look, and tell readers what is or is not listed in these diaries — feel free to comment.

Lady Cunliffe was still alive (died in fall, 1814); and she knew Sir Joshua Reynolds — was painted by him even. She probably visited the exhibition, but so far very little written by her is known to exist. The Gosling/Cunliffe family was well-known to Mrs Piozzi (Hester Thrale); and she lent paintings to this exhibition! Small world…

For now, though, let’s take a viritual tour, circa 1813, in the company of Jane Austen!

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