Have You Seen this Lady?

November 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm (chutes of the vyne, estates, history, london's landscape, portraits and paintings) (, , , , )

Mike from Tring sent me a photo of a drawing – a room in a house: But which room and in which house (never mind by which Smith sister, assuming it to be by a Smith in the first place). The companion drawing has a notation of “Chinese Bedroom at Tring”. I can barely make out the date, which could be 1829? The other drawing is untitled and undated.

The un-ID’ed room has a box piano to the left, then a group of stout books (folios) in a free-standing bookshelf. Two windows flank a well-stocked bookcase (which includes a tier or two of ceramics); this is placed central in the sketch. What appears to be a chess set sits on a table in front of the left-most window. A seating area is seen to take up much of the right side.

The Ceiling is high and decorated with much plaster-work (no murals within the medallions); the floor is carpeted (a block pattern, with perhaps floral motifs?); wood flooring peeks out at the sides. The windows are tall, starting near the ceiling. A left-hand-side door leads to the rest of the house, a wing (or perhaps porch?) of which is glimpsed outside the window.

What catches the eye straightaway is the full-length portrait over the filled bookcase. Identification of the portrait may help ID the room and in turn the estate and the artist. I’ve got my guesses, but toss it out to TWO TEENS readers: Shout out if you’ve seen this Lady!!

The stag makes me think “Diana the Huntress” or some other “symbolic” figure; but the clothing seems right out of a portrait meant to represent (dare I hope) a family member, thought the head-dress may be conical and have a gauze-fabric (or is that more ‘tree’?). The scale of the portrait to the room makes the actual painting HUGE! It hangs just below the crown molding, and if the room has a 10-foot ceiling, the painting could be over five-feet in height!

mystery lady and deer

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Le Faye’s JASA Article: “Not Jane Austen’s Portrait”

June 16, 2013 at 5:52 pm (books, history, jane austen, jasna, portraits and paintings) (, , , , )

A few weeks ago I received the last issue of Persuasions, the Jane Austen Journal. Only today did I catch up with some reading! But I’ve a quick favor to ask of readers.

austen by elizaDeirdre Le Faye has written an article which appears in the JASA (Jane Austen Society of Australia) publication Sensibilities. Entitled, “Black Ink and Three Telltale Words; or, Not Jane Austen’s Portrait,” it is a lengthy article (pp. 18-30) which obviously propounds Le Faye’s thoughts against the portrait. I’d love to read it! If somone could forward a digital copy of the article, I’d be grateful. Otherwise, I’ll have to inquiry whether JASA has a copy of the publication available and snail mail it here to the States.

Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen might remember that there once was a possibility (early on…) that Eliza Chute — yes, Emma’s Aunt Chute — could have wielded the graphite stick and paintbrush:

I admitted to being a bit surprised that Paula Byrne could cite an upcoming article in her book on Austen hastily released in January (2013). It’s this very article, by Deborah Kaplan (Persuasions: “‘There she is at last’: The Byrne Portrait Controversy”), which in turn cites Le Faye’s article. From the article title (and, frankly, my memory of Byrne’s use of the article), I expected an out-and-out endorsement by Kaplan of this picture.

The Persuasions’ article isn’t as black and white as all that. In fact, Kaplan’s discussion is less on the portrait and more a critique of the BBC special cited above, “Jane Austen: The Unseen Portrait?”. On the whole she makes some well-placed points about the TV program. Proponents for either pro or ante will find Kaplan’s thoughts of use.

{an aside: Kaplan is the author Jane Austen Among Women, which has its own lengthy discussion of Eliza Chute and her circle of acquaintance!}

I have long thought Byrne would have an uphill battle at any authentication of her portrait as portraying the Jane Austen. Why? The Eliza Chute Connection. If she had Eliza Chute as artist there was a chance that this portrait could have been done from life, could have been something few within the family remembered by the late 1860s, when Edward Austen was looking for a portrait of his late aunt to grace A Memoir of Jane Austen.

But the more I compared the “Austin” portrait with a known portrait done by Eliza Chute, the more I had to conclude that Eliza was not Byrne’s artist.

paula-maria

Anyone watching the BBC special that Christmas in 2011 would not have realized the portrait seen in the screen, sharing space with Byrne’s own face (above), WAS the reason Byrne contacted me a few months before the show aired.

Maria Lady Northampton

This is the portrait, on vellum, by Eliza Chute of her eldest sister Maria Lady Northampton. A similarity – in pose, for instance, is there for anyone to see. The execution, however (even though I have never seen EITHER portrait in the flesh), seems much more accomplished than that of the “Jane Austin”. As much as I had _hoped_ my Eliza had drawn her neighbor Jane Austin (and she did spell the family name this way), I think her a better artist, even if she might have become rusty by c1814.

If anyone can supply the Sensibilities article, please see email contact information under About the Author.

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In with new / Out with old

January 13, 2013 at 12:22 am (entertainment, history, jane austen, news, people, portraits and paintings, travel) (, , , , , , )

In The Burlington Free Press a TINY notice from Vienna that the Salzburg Mozarteum authenticated a new portrait of MOZART. I don’t mention it often here, but I became a Mozart-fan after seeing (and seeing again) Amadeus. I’ve tons of books – even bought the German edition (four volumes; no commentary) of Mozart’s Correspondence AKA Mozarts Briefe – a magnificent set. I used to take the commentary out of the library (my set didn’t come complete: seven volumes). To me, this “standard” is what Austen studies needs to emulate: all the extant letters, scraps &c — ie, for the entire family; extensive commentary and indexing. Simply fabulous.

mozartwoche

Mozartwoche 2013: Coming Soon!

Looking, I found only the most shallow (repetitive) stories. There are so many questions! How do “they” know? If it’s been “centuries”, where was this portrait, who painted it? when? So much nothingness, that I link up this Washington Post story just for the curious. Still hoping to find some in-depth piece…

Part of the head-scratching for me is that another portrait has been discredited, the so-called Boy with Bird Nest. Similar questions pop into my head: why no longer thought to “be” Mozart? This question may be more easily answered. An interesting site called, what else?!, Mozart Portraits, talks about this portrait as possibly by Zoffany, and possibly a portrait of one of the three sons of Lord Bute (a theory being that Zoffany painted Bute’s boys and the nest was an ongoing motif for them). Nice collection of portraits — authentic, spurious, under consideration, and also fantasy & caricature!

Here’s my own little collection:

The Old: Boy with Nestmozart_old

mozart_newThe New: Detail

The Cute: by Liu Yemozart_ye
For a cartoon that had me LAUGHING OUT LOUD, see Pinterest.

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