Copy of Jane Austen’s portrait

Object name: A facsimile copy of portrait of Jane Austen by her sister Cassandra

Object number: CHWJA:JAH65

Category: Object

Description: A facsimile copy of the portrait of Jane Austen by her sister Cassandra, reproduced in 1948 by Marjorie Dadd from the portrait in the National Portrait Gallery collection.

Made: 1948

Context: There are just two known contemporary portraits of Jane Austen, both drawn by her sister Cassandra. One, which is still in family ownership, shows Jane from behind sitting outdoors dressed in a blue bonnet and gown; the other dating from around 1810, is a front view of Jane sitting on a chair with her arms folded.

On Cassandra’s death in 1845, many of her possessions were inherited by her youngest brother Charles and his family.  In the 1920s, two of Charles’ granddaughters – Jane and Emma Florence Austen – fell on hard times and sold many of their Austen artefacts to an early collector of Jane Austen material called Frederick Lovering. Following his death, the collection he had amassed, which included the portrait of Jane sitting on a chair, was auctioned at Sotheby’s in May 1948. The portrait was bought by the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Also in May 1948, Mr T. Edward Carpenter completed the purchase of Jane Austen’s House from the descendants of Jane’s brother Edward and was very keen to build a collection of Austen material to display at the Museum which was to open in 1949. Having missed the Sotheby’s sale, he asked his wife’s cousin, Marjorie Dadd, to make a copy of the portrait. The National Gallery gave Marjorie access to the watercolour drawing from which she created this very accurate facsimile using a piece of paper from 1825.

Other objects you might like: