The Portrait of Jane Austen; Is it the writer’s or not?

There is a well-known portrait of a little girl dressed in white who has been said for years to be the writer Jane Austen. The portrait in question has belonged to the Rice family for generations and they are in fact descendants of one of the writer’s brothers

According to the family, the portrait of Jane Austen should have been commissioned from Ozias Humphry in 1788 when the writer, then 12, visited relatives in Kent with her sister Cassandra.

It should all be very straightforward as there is also proof in the family accounts of the expenditure of 12 Guineas to the artist to make the portrait. But experts have always been of the opinion that this is not the portrait of Jane Austen, mainly because they believe that the dress could not have been from 1788, but it is a fashion of later years.

A couple of years ago a letterĀ  from Fanny Caroline Lefroy who was a relative of Jane Austen (the mother was the daughter of one of the writer’s brothers) was found which assures that the portrait was authentic.

Lefroy was born three years after Jane Austen’s death but appears to have been familiar with the family’s matters. From the letter it appears that the painter was Johann Zoffany. New revelations on the mystery of Jane Austen’s portrait Lefroy’s letter appears to be authentic and if true, there would be no reason to doubt its content. At the time of Lefroy, no one wondered if the portrait was authentic or not, the doubts began from the 1930s onwards, therefore practically 100 years after the letter. You can read a The Guardian’s article about this mystery here.

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