April 20th, 2007

Shelley, Keats and Byron

The other great early 19th century writer of whom there are no decent portraits is Shelley. (I mean Percy not Mary). This is odd, given that Shelley was a wealthy  aristo and very much in love with himself. The one authentic adult portrait- by Amelia Curran- is horribly bland and- though Mary begged it off the artist- generally regarded as a poor likeness.

Here it is, anyway.

Image:Portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley by Curran, 1819.jpg

And here's Mary in her early 40s.


There are several rather good portraits of Keats- including a life mask and a death mask- but then Keats- though only a middle-class vulgarian- had friends who were artists.

Here's one I hadn't seen before- a charming silhouette by Marianne Hunt. 

There are, of course, lots and lots of portraits of Byron. Most of them serve the legend. Here's one (by Count d'Orsay) that subverts it, showing him as nervy, querulous and (unmistakeably) balding. 

Jane Again?

 Watercolour Portrait of Jane Austen 

O.K. guys, so what do we make of this?

It's a portrait of an unidentified woman by Jane Austen's friend and admirer the Rev James Stanier Clarke. 

Is it Jane? 

All the evidence in its favour is circumstantial, but there's nothing about it that rules it out of court.

Stanier Clarke was the Prince Regent's librarian and Jane visited him at Carlton House. Obviously she would have dressed up for the occasion.

Casa Magni



What a lonesome casa that casa was,

With a high tide under the balcony

Scratting and knocking like Harriet Shelley,

Asking for Percy and asking for Mary,

Poor drowned Harriet, wanting her man.