Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jane Austen Week - Wednesday: What did Jane Look Like?

No one knows for sure what Jane Austen looked like. The only two pictures that we certainly have of her were painted by her sister, Cassandra.

This is the unfinished portrait that Cassandra drew of Jane; family claimed that it looked unlike her.
There are also other portraits that are thought to be Jane Austen, but there is still some controversy to them.

The Rice Portrait by Ozias Humphry. Some believe that it is Jane Austen, however, there are also some that say that the portrait depicts a young girl wearing fashions from 1805 when Jane Austen was thirty.
"Clarke watercolor" painting that is thought to be Jane Austen
Two Silhouettes that may be Jane Austen

Some have tried to come up with modern portraits of Jane Austen. Though probably not like her, they are very nice!

For more information, take a look at this article at The Jane Austen Center.

What do you think? Which pictures are your favorites? Which ones do you think could be Jane Austen? Do you think the modern pictures give a closer look to what she may have looked like?

God Bless,
 God Bless, Miss Elizabeth Bennet


  1. I guess it will always remain a mystery as to what Jane really looks like, but I do so love the last {modern} picture of her!

    This is a very interesting post, btw. :)


  2. Ooh! What an interesting post, dear! It's sad to know that only two portraits are definitely of her...the others *do* resemble her, never know! They may be of her too :) I think the moderns ones are actually done quite well...

    ~Miss Raquel

  3. The first silhouette reminds me of Elinor from the newer version of Sense and Sensibility for some reason...

  4. I remember reading in "Jane Austen for Dummies" descriptions that family members made of her color, eye color, height, etc. It was very cool. :)

    I think the first silhouette is probably her. :)

    The fashions on that Clarke watercolor painting makes me a little wary...

    Fun post!

  5. I never saw the Clarke watercolor before! Well, she was very into clothing ...

  6. i like the framed ones. the newer one adds the colour that we know isn't common in real life,but it makes for an attractive picture ")
    it's hard to not have pictures when we are so visually oriented...

  7. I will always think of Jane Austen as beautiful, no matter if she wasn't! She will always be beautiful to me, even I can't be sure what she looked like! Her character makes me think she is lovely. Maybe its best we not know what she truly looked like. The unknown is mysteries. And with mysteries, we are always spell-bound.

    I have my post up for today!

  8. Her family & friends described her as 'pretty'. =)

    I'll bet she had sparkling, animated eyes like Elizabeth Bennet!

  9. I really have no idea what Jane might have looked like. A curious anecdote: I've always imagined her with dark hair but in my recent visit to Chawton I discovered she wasn't! In a drawer they kept a lock of Jane's hair: it was fair, half-way between blond and light brown.

  10. It is a little vexing to not know for sure what she looked like: of the two definite portraits of her, one is her from the back and the other apparently did not look much like her...but I agree with Old Fashion Girl, perhaps it is better not to know :) It can seen through her books the type of person she was, and that is of course what matters above all. And the mystery of her true appearance makes her all the more interesting, in my opinion! Although I do like the two last modern portraits, and they are what I usually visualise in my head.

    Very interesting post topic, by the way. I really enjoyed this one!


  11. Maria,
    Well, one thing to keep in mind is that the end of one's hair can be quite a bit lighter than the top (I know mine is). Also, I wonder if the color can fade? And was it set in anything?

    I wish I could go to Chawton!

    I'm pretty sure her friends/family said she had brown hair; but in that case, it was probably light brown.

  12. My favorites are the ones painted by Cassandra but I'm willing to accept that the very last photo looks like hers, probably because that was the one commissioned by an encyclopedia if I remember correctly. I love the first silhouette too!
    Whenever I see actress Anna Chancellor I can't help thinking that's more like what Jane must have looked like because Anna is a great-great-grand niece (however many greats) and I think resemblances stay in families. Also Anna is quite handsome and I think Jane Austen was too!

    ~Miss Laurie :)


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