“We have been both to the Exhibition & Sir J. Reynolds’, – and I am disappointed, for there was nothing like Mrs. D. [Darcy] at either. – I can only imagine that Mr. D. prizes any Picture of her too much to like it should be exposed to the public eye. – I can imagine he w’d have that sort [of omitted] feeling – that mixture of Love, Pride & Delicacy.- Setting aside this disappointment, I had great amusement among the Pictures…”
[Jane Austen, Letter 85, Monday 24 May 1813]
Those who have read Jane Austen’s letters are familiar with her comments on visiting London. It has been an ongoing project of mine to figure out where she went and what she did and how she uses the pieces of her London treks in her novels. One of the more interesting and frustrating is her reference to the art exhibit of Sir Joshua Reynolds – what did she see there, other than not finding a portrait of Mrs. Darcy? It has been revealed today that we will now have a chance to see exactly that, sort of following Jane herself around the galleries, as Professor Janine Barchas of the University of Texas at Austin launches What Jane Saw - a complete reconstruction of that exhibit. You will surely want to bookmark this new website and mark your calendars to view the happening on May 24, 2013!
From the website:
On 24 May 1813, Jane Austen visited an art exhibit at the British Institution in Pall Mall, London. The popular show was the first-ever retrospective of the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), England’s celebrated portrait painter. On 24 May 2013, two centuries to the day that Austen viewed the 141 paintings in that exhibit, this site will open its doors as a public e-gallery, offering the modern visitor a precise historical reconstruction of that long-lost Regency blockbuster.
- You can visit the website here: http://www.whatjanesaw.org/
- Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/WhatJaneSaw#!/WhatJaneSaw
- Professor Barchas on youtube about “What Jane Saw“:
- Professor Barchas wrote about this project here at the Aphra Behn Journal Online: http://www.aphrabehn.org/ABO/?p=1245#more-1245
- See a blog post here with Professor Barchas on her recently published Matters of Fact in Jane Austen [Johns Hopkins 2012]
I will be posting more on this as we near the launch date – this is very exciting, so stay tuned!!
[image from What Jane Saw]
Self-portrait of Sir Joshua Reynolds