Sunday, 8 October 2017

Prettifying Jane Austen

In the UK, they have created a new banknote with the portrait of Jane Austen on it, and while I enthusiastically applaud this use of public real estate to recognize the unique contribution of a woman who almost single-handedly invented the modern novel, I have strong reservations about the source used to generate the image. The first picture below shows the new banknote. The second picture shows the portrait of Austen created by her beloved sister, Cassandra, in 1810, when Jane was still alive. The third picture below shows the sanitised portrait created by professional artist James Andrews based on Cassandra's portrait. This portrait was used for the fourth picture below, which is an engraving used for the purpose of illustrating the memoir about Austen written by her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, which was published in 1869. What we're not seeing in the new banknote is a portrait based on Cassandra's original drawing, but rather one based on the sanitised, Victorian-era portrait made by Andrews.

No comments: