Silhouette of Cassandra Austen

Object name: Silhouette of Cassandra Austen

Object number: CHWJA: JAH74

Category: Paintings and drawings

Description: Silhouette of Cassandra Elizabeth Austen (1773-1845), oval, in an ebonised and gilt metal frame, early 19th century school.

Date: early 19th century

Context: Cassandra was three years older than her sister Jane, and the two were best friends all their lives. She was arguably one of the most important figures in Jane Austen’s life and legacy.

When Jane fell ill in 1817, Cassandra was her chief companion and nurse. After Jane’s death,  Cassandra did much to protect her personal and literary legacy. She dealt with her will, distributing locks of hair and personal items to members of the family, including a number of her letters. Along with her brother Henry, she also looked after Jane’s literary estate.

As an amateur artist, Cassandra also provided the two authenticated likenesses of Jane Austen that we know today – a back view of her in a blue dress, and an unfinished sketch of her face.

Find out more about Cassandra…

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