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Regency Portraits Catalogue

Jane Austen (1775-1817), Novelist

The four portraits usually considered to be of Jane Austen are discussed by Dr Chapman in an Appendix to his Austen biography. Apart from NPG 3181 and 3630, these are:

Watercolour drawing by Cassandra, signed and dated: C.E.A. 1804 showing her back view sitting on the ground out of doors. Her niece Anna Lefroy wrote in August 1862, ‘She was once I think at Tenby - and once they went as far north as Barmouth - I would give a good deal, that is as much as I could afford, for a sketch which Aunt Cassandra made of her in one of their expeditions - sitting down out of doors on a hot day, with her bonnet strings untied' (Chapman, Jane Austen's Letters, 1932, frontispiece and p xxxv, and op. cit., pp 213-14). This drawing is in a manuscript notebook of family history kept by Anna Lefroy and still in the family possession. At least two copies of it exist in other family collections.

Portrait formerly attributed to Zoffany, but more likely to be by Ozias Humphry of a young girl holding a parasol and in the costume of about 1805 when Jane would have been 30. This was reproduced in Lord Brabourne's edition of the Letters in 1884 and again in William and Richard Austen Leigh, Life and Letters of Jane Austen, 1912. It could possibly be of her niece also called Jane and a daughter of her elder brother James, but it could not represent the novelist.

Two watercolour drawings called Jane Austen appeared in the Godmersham Park sale, Christie's 6-9 June 1983 (1130-1), authenticity doubtful.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.