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© National Portrait Gallery, London
Unknown woman, formerly known as Charlotte Brontë
by Unknown artistwatercolour, 185012 1/4 in. x 9 1/4 in. (311 mm x 235 mm)Purchased, 1906NPG 1444
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James Gorin von Grozny
17 February 2017, 16:36
The inscription; 'wearing of green for the first time in 3 months' if typically cryptic must be key clue to time and occasion, which must correspond with age of subject, c. 26yrs, and acute circumstances 1841-'42. C.B travelled from Brussells via London to aunt E's funeral, with small/liberating inheritance gave opportunity/means/reason to commission portrait for (to impress) Heger senior, to collect 3 months later via return Jan '42. The left cuff unfinished as if collected in a hurry, perhaps why unsigned. Early Victorian grieving protocol prescribes 3 months for an aunt. Miscellaneous Bronte artefacts show the family were associated with William Henry 'Birds Nest' Hunt among others. The conspicuous genre-portraitist is credited with 'inventing' the white underlay and scraping and scratching techniques of 'pure' w/colour evident in 1444, practised by only a handful of OWS members. The notion 'Miss Vickers' in Victoria's early reign conceivably relates to the dutiful subject's 'alter ego', quintessentially English and studious, The recto inscription is likely merely Paul H's innocent attempt to authenticate the subject. Tate's drawing by Hunt 'Young Man Looking Down' appears made at the same time, when Branwell accompanied C.B to London Jan 1842. If the drawings are contemporary, they will be on rag-paper, wood-pulp introduced later that year. The paper may be from same maker or batch, or same stock-sheet. Would it be possible to collaborate optical analysis of papers to see if the unidentified drawings are related, and reunited brother and sister?
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