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Possibly Jane Austen

Possibly Jane Austen, by Unknown artist, circa 1800-1815 -NPG 3181 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Possibly Jane Austen

by Unknown artist
circa 1800-1815
4 in. x 3 1/8 in. (102 mm x 80 mm)
NPG 3181

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed: L'aimable Jane.

This portraitback to top

The identity is not absolutely proven but as Dr Chapman says, 'Who would insert, in a copy of Mansfield Park, a portrait of any other Jane than its author?' Two other comments are relevant. 'The NPG has an interestingly hollow-cut silhouette, thought to be of Jane Austen and possibly by Mrs Collins ... Comparison with the only other portrait, an unfinished sketch by her sister Cassandra, leaves little doubt that this is indeed a shade of the immortal Jane' (Peggy Hickman, Silhouettes, 1968, pp 9-11). ‘... it is not a particularly good cut, surely amateur's work but it does not belie the words, apparently contemporary, which are inscribed on it: L'aimable Jane. This is for me at least a possible portrait; this light shadow cast across the living populated pages of her novels' (Piper, Shades, p 59). Duplicates of silhouettes were quite common and though none of NPG 3181 has come to light this is a future possibility confirming a near certainty.

Provenanceback to top

Pasted into a copy of Mansfield Park volume 2 (2nd edition bearing owner's name A. E. Oakley in volume 1), bought probably from a house in Bath by Archie Miles of Leeds in the 1920s; bought from Miles in 1930 by Arthur Rogers, dealer in rare books Newcastle-on-Tyne, who offered it to Dr Chapman in May 1944; Dr Chapman stood down in favour of the NPG Trustees who bought it in June 1944 for 10 guineas.


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.

View all known portraits for Jane Austen