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Tony Grist

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Shelley, Keats and Byron [Apr. 20th, 2007|10:24 am]
Tony Grist
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.

Image:MaryShelley.jpg.jpeg

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. 

linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: rosamicula
2007-04-20 10:01 am (UTC)
GIP... I rather like Keats's death mask.

I got my MA scholarship on the basis of an essay I wrote about Keats's class and why the Romantics appealed so much to the Victorian middle classes.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-20 11:15 am (UTC)
Interesting.

But the Victorians did rather overlook the political radicalism of the romantics, didn't they- reducing them to singers of sweet songs- or at least that's the impression I get from browsing through my Palgrave.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2007-04-20 01:33 pm (UTC)
Where did you find the Marianne Hunt silhouette? It´s not in the National Portrait Gallery archives, is it?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-20 01:47 pm (UTC)
It's off this site- http://englishhistory.net/keats/images.html

It was the first site to come up when I Googled "Keats portraits". Jolly good it is too!
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2007-04-20 02:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link!
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2007-04-20 02:03 pm (UTC)
Ah, but d'Orsay had a problem drawing feet! If Byron's feet were that tiny, he'd've fallen over. :P
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-20 03:14 pm (UTC)
That's true.

I don't suppose it's a brilliant likeness, but it does seem to capture something that other artists missed.
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2007-04-20 03:21 pm (UTC)
I'm sure it does; the feet just struck me as funny. :)
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2007-04-20 04:25 pm (UTC)
Byron had at least one clubfoot, though.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-20 04:48 pm (UTC)
But did he?

There's a discussion of the evidence here http://nq.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/issue_pdf/frontmatter_pdf/CXLVI/apr19.pdf
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2007-04-20 08:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, fascinating! I was unaware of this, but I think it's a well-argued case. I knew a man who developed an equivalent of Little's Disease in adulthood after a head injury from a motorcycle accident. The style of movement described as Byron's gait is in fact nearly identical. The funny thing is that my former acquaintance also appeared to have very small feet due to the peculiar way he stood.

*Retires to corner with mental bone to gnaw.*
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[User Picture]From: akirlu
2007-04-20 05:47 pm (UTC)
It's at times like these that I have an irresistable urge to quote Dorothy Parker:

Byron and Shelley and Keats
Were a trio of lyrical treats.
The forehead of Shelley was cluttered with curls,
And Keats never was a descendant of Earls,
And Byron walked out with a number of girls,
But it did not impair the poetical feats
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron, and Shelley and Keats.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-04-20 05:52 pm (UTC)
LOL
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2007-04-20 08:12 pm (UTC)
I almost fell victim to the same urge. *g*

I also appreciate the title she gave the poem series from which this comes --- A Pig's Eye View of Literature.
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