Archive for the ‘Jane Austen the ‘Rice’ Portrait’ Category

The results of the work undertaken by Paris-based restorer, Eva Schwann, have now been published on The Rice Portrait Website and makes fascinating reading whether your interest is in the restoration of paintings or in the history of this particularly beautiful portrait. Eva was trained at the Courtauld Institute and France’s Institut National du Patrimoine and spent much of 2010 and 11 bringing the painting back to life. I was lucky enough to visit Eva in her studio whilst work was being undertaken, and to see the portrait for myself. You can read about the lovely day I had here

 Eva was able to clean the significant OH symbol that the artist used in many of his works, which is especially pleasing to see – I think there can be no doubt that the portrait was painted by Ozias Humphry.

  There is also a new article on the website about the Austen family’s connections with the Humphreys – they were also acquainted with Ozias’s younger brother, William and his wife who lived at Seal. Mrs Humphries (sic) wrote to Jane’s father to tell him of William Hampson Walter’s death in 1798. He was George Austen’s half-brother and lived at Seal also. Jane wrote a letter of condolence to her cousin, Philadelphia:

  Steventon Sunday April 8th

My dear Cousin

As Cassandra is at present from home, You must accept from my pen, our sincere Condolance on the melancholy Event which Mrs Humphries Letter announced to my Father this morning.——The loss of so kind & affectionate a Parent, must be a very severe affliction to all his Children, to yourself more especially, as your constant residence with him has given you so much the more constant & intimate Knowledge of his Virtues.——But the very circumstance which at present enhances your loss, must gradually reconcile you to it the better;——the Goodness which made him valuable on Earth, will make him Blessed in Heaven.——This consideration must bring comfort to yourself, to my Aunt, & to all his family & friends; & this comfort must be heightened by the consideration of the little Enjoyment he was able to receive from this World for some time past, & of the small degree of pain attending his last hours.——I will not press you to write before you would otherwise feel equal to it, but when you can do it without pain, I hope we shall receive from you as good an account of my Aunt & Yourself, as can be expected in these early days of Sorrow.——

    My Father & Mother join me in every kind wish, & I am my dear Cousin,

                                                 Yours affec:tely
                                                       Jane Austen
Miss Walter
The Grey House, Seal, thought to be the home of the Walters



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Jane Austen to the Life?

At last I can tell you all about the very latest evidence on the Rice Portrait!
Recently published in the Times Literary Supplement is an excellent article by Professor Claudia L. Johnson on the Rice Portrait of Jane Austen. As she states … it would now seem that there is decisive evidence that the “Rice Portrait” of Jane Austen (seen here in a photograph from 1910) is indeed an authentic likeness of the novelist, made in her lifetime. This evidence consists of the three lines of script in the upper right-hand corner, in the area outlined in yellow. First, the artist’s signature: Ozia[s] Humphry, R.A. Second, the date of the portrait: 178* (that last digit is probably a nine). And third, the name of the sitter: Jane Austen.

The image produced by the Emery Walker negative from 1910

Professor Johnson highlights some of the debates that have ensued over the years, but continues:
We would still be at an impasse were it not for a singular stroke of luck. In 1910, Sir Ernest Rice, then owner of the portrait, hired the prominent engraver, printer and photographer Emery Walker to photograph the Rice Portrait at the request of his cousins William and R. W. Austen-Leigh, who would use it as the frontispiece to their biography. This photograph, which seems unremarkable, not to mention a bit unfocused, is thus extremely valuable in preserving an image of the portrait as it existed before its twentieth-century cleanings. The original glass plate negatives of Walker’s photograph are in the Heinz Archive of the National Portrait Gallery, listed under the title “Unknown girl formerly known as Jane Austen”. Last year, the Heinz supplied an adequately high resolution digital scan of these negatives to Acumé Forensics, a firm in Leeds specializing in, among other things, the analysis of digital images for evidentiary purposes in courts of law. The images printed here are reproduced from Acume’s report.

I hope you will read Professor Johnson’s articleclick here to read in full.

I am delighted to have been given permission to show you the Acume Forensics report which has been copied below. I’m sure you’ll find the accompanying images fascinating!

Acume Forensics Ltd

Examination and Improvement Emery Walker Negatives 1910 

21st July 2012 Instruction
I was instructed by  – – –  to examine a digital scan of a photographic plate produced by Emma Cavalier of the National Portrait Gallery, London. A copy of this scan has been subject to certain documented improvements conducted by an amateur which allegedly revealed a signature attributed to Ozias Humphry. I was asked to conduct both an assessment of the work previously conducted and also to conduct my own independent examination and improvement of the scanned image.
Review Procedure
The image under review is in its original form a glass negative which is documented as being produced by Emery Walker (photographer) in 1910, and held at the National Portrait Gallery in London. (NPG).
In order to conduct a forensic examination of this scanned image its provenance must first be established, to facilitate this first stage an original uncompressed scan was requested from NPG, the supplied scan was verified as original and unaltered using the files digital metadata, this is data generated when any digital image is produced.
In this instance I was able to confirm the supplied image Z1170_EW1009-3_A1_size.tif was produced on the 5th May 2012 at 17:37hrs using an Epson Perfection V700 scanner. The negative was scanned at a resolution of 11906 pixels by 7835 pixels at 360 pixels per inch and saved as a lossless .tif file. The date and time are recorded from the computer attached to the scanner/camera and as such cannot be relied upon in isolation. However in this case the time of production is immaterial.
The recording resolution used for this scan is much higher than the resolving capabilities of the original negative, this high resolution capture ensures no recorded information is lost and is regarded as good practice for this type of photographic imaging.

The scan reveals the limitation of the original camera used in 1910, with the image being both unevenly exposed showing a lack of detail in the highlights and shadows due to over exposure or over development. `The image is also slightly out of focus with no point of sharp focus across the whole image. 
However on review the image does show some clear and legible written characters visible prior to any improvement. 
The area of the image allegedly containing the disputed signature had previously been identified, this area alone was subject to visual improvement. A blanket adjustment was used to ensure that no pixels were over treated, over treatment can result in pixels being adjusted to artificially to either contain no information (256) or be completely black (0). In this case this could inadvertently introduce extensions to characters not actually present on the original image.
Images showing the highlighted signature, date and subject

A custom adjustment curve was applied to the key area both as a negative and positive image, an unsharp mask was also applied at a very low level to improve edge definition (contrast). 

Acume Forensics Ltd
After improvement the signature(s) are clearly visible, a simple visual comparison chart was produced using a high provenance image of Ozias Humphry’s signature in ink from 1786. 

There are signatures recorded on the Emery Walker negatives. Which I read as – Ozia RA_ _ _ _ Humphry
Jane Austen _7
Ozia Humphry RA178_
Dashes show an illegible character.

Addendum September 30th 2012
After further review I have produced a further set of improved images using a high pass filter, this has further improved contrast between the signatures and the background. 

Stephen Cole Technical Director

Acume Forensics 21st July 2012

If you’d like to read more on the history and provenance of the Rice Portrait – please visit The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen website 

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Jane Austen, the Rice Portrait

I am delighted to reproduce the article below written by Mrs. Anne Rice and Mr. Robin Roberts, which gives the background detail to the discoveries that were made on the Emery Walker glass photographic plates produced in 1910 of the Rice portrait of Jane Austen. I’ve included the images so you can see for yourself – I think they speak for themselves, but particularly noteworthy is the Humphry signature that matches exactly to other examples we have on record, down to the characteristic ‘hook’ on the letter H of Humphry. I’d like to add at this point that I am so thrilled for Mrs. Rice – I cannot imagine how awful it must have been for her and her late husband to live with the fact that certain ‘experts’ were determined to find this portrait to be wanting in some way or other. The family inherited the portrait; it has an excellent provenance, and yet, for many years they have had to endure the opinions of others that have tried to undermine the painting’s authenticity. I only wish that Mr. Henry Rice could have had the pleasure of seeing his painting vindicated.

The Denouement

 We are so very delighted to announce that on Saturday, The Guardian Newspaper published the proof that the Rice Portrait of Jane Austen by Ozias Humphry RA is an authentic likeness of her. It has taken my late husband Henry, my son, myself and my brother Robin Roberts over forty years to overturn the decision made in the early 1940s by the National Portrait Gallery, that our picture was not of Jane Austen the novelist, but of some other sitter. It has been a long process, but at last new evidence has come to light which vindicates the Rice family of misleading the world, and exonerates all the other players in this long story. This final proof has been provided by two glass plates (or negatives) of photographs taken at Dane Court (the Rice family home) in Kent in 1910 by Emery Walker. These plates have been in the Heinz Library, part of the National Portrait Gallery, since 1950. We were unaware of their existence, but when Edmund Butler, a journalist friend of ours discovered them, it was a breakthrough. Robin Francis, the curator of the Heinz library, who has been consistently kind and helpful to us, allowed us to photograph these plates and we then put the results up on this website. Robin had his own team of photographers verify and re-photograph the plates, which yielded same excellent results. Next, a reader of our website, whom I will refer to as ‘The Beagle’, as he wishes to remain anonymous, contacted us out of the blue to tell us that he had found the name ‘Jane Austen’ clearly written on the black and white images taken from the 1910 plates on the website, and had also found the artists’ name, ‘Ozias Humphry RA, 1789, Pinxt’. He asked us ‘if we were aware of this? He then sent us the pictures, which were then reproduced in the Guardian newspaper on Saturday June 9th.

 Beagle’s results have been observed, replicated and verified by experts in handwriting, and digital computer technology. They say that the words discovered by him are there and, that they would be willing to testify to this in a court of law. Ozias Humphry RA, a miniaturist before being forced by a head injury to paint ‘in large’, wrote in miniature letters on many of his commissions, both large and small.
 The Beagle, also sent us another astounding piece of new evidence that he had discovered on examining the photographs that we took of the restored picture in Eva Schwann’s studio. This piece of evidence is now undergoing the same rigorous procedures to authenticate it, as the ‘Jane Austen and the ‘Ozias Humphry’ signatures. We are looking forward to revealing this in the media and on this website. We have faced bewildering opposition to this portrait for many years, and are deeply grateful to our many steadfast supporters. At last, the fascinating and brilliant little face in our portrait is proven beyond doubt to be that of Jane Austen. I hope that she is as thrilled as her descendants by this outcome, hereafter the world will know that this is a true portrayal of the child genius who became England’s greatest female novelist.

Anne Rice and Robin Roberts.

Example of Ozias Humphry’s signature
Example of Ozias Humphry’s signature

Ozias Humphry’s signature on the glass plate
Jane Austen written on the 1910 plates

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If you’ve visited my blog before you will know that I’ve written at length about this delightful portrait of Jane Austen by Ozias Humphry.
There’s a lovely article in JASNA news this month by Anne Rice, the owner of the portrait, and her brother, Robin Roberts, which is introduced by the editor, Sheryl Craig. Click on the picture for a larger image.
There are some exciting developments happening as I write – all I can say at the moment is to keep watching the website  The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen for more information!

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Edward Rice

As we come to the close of this fascinating history of the Rice Portrait provenance, I’d like to tell you about a new website, which gives more detail and information about the painting. The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen is to be found at http://www.janeaustenriceportrait.co.uk, and will cover every aspect of the portrait’s history from its provenance to concerns and addresses the Mary Anne Campion attribution,  amongst other matters. It is a work in progress, and more pages are being added daily!

And now, I’d like to thank Mrs. Rice for joining us again to tell us about the tenth owner, Edward Rice, and poignantly, about her late husband, Henry Rice, the eleventh owner of the portrait.

Edward Rice 1899-1973
Edward Rice inherited the portrait as the tenth owner on his father’s death in 1943. He married a great heiress, Lord Curzon of Kedleston’s stepdaughter, Marcella Duggan, and built a ballroom onto Dane Court, which was large, echoing, and rather draughty when I knew it. However, the painting looked well there. Unfortunately, Marcella and Edward Rice were divorced having had three children, and Henry’s new French stepmother (who owned a home in Normandy) was an acquisitive and unkind lady. On Edward Rice’s death in 1973, she stripped the whole of Dane Court, sending most of the contents to Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and the rest to France. Very luckily, she was unable to take the family portraits, or the books, but she even removed the marble baths and wash hand basins, a clean sweep: (This last, however, she was forced to return.) My Henry, sickened at this rape of his family’s possessions, sold Dane Court and the estate in 1975. We were married in that year and lived for some time in Guernsey.   
Henry Rice 1928-2010
My late husband, Henry Rice, was the 11th owner of the portrait, and it is because of his fury at those who doubted its authenticity, and the untiring efforts to put this right, that it is now known as the ‘Rice Portrait’. He minded the slur on his family’s veracity as much as the attack on his own truthfulness – as his old uncle remarked plaintively, “They may not like you, Henry, but what on earth have they got against the rest of us?” What indeed? I suspect it was because of his decision to sell the portrait to help his family; if money had not been involved things would have been easier. The N.P.G. (having decided their sketch was the only authentic picture of Jane) did not wish to buy it, although its provenance is ‘impeccable’, vide Chapman! So when Henry applied for an export license for the picture it was granted. It was about this time he also discovered the correspondence that showed Sir Henry Hake’s attempts to buy the portrait from his grandfather in the N.P.G. archive.
Henry Rice
He was greatly helped by Brian Stewart, the Director of the Falmouth Art Gallery. Brian had written, ‘A Dictionary of English Portrait Painters’, (with Mervyn Cutten whom Henry also knew. He attributed ‘Jane’ without question to Ozias Humphry, (and also latterly, the large oil of Edward Knight, her brother), and lectured on this in New York. Sadly, he had an accident last year, 2010, and died not long after Henry.
‘The attribution to Ozias Humphry was recently confirmed by the discovery of a Christie’s valuation made in 1985, which identified the monogram of Ozias Humphry, and attributed the work to him in full. The monogram was impaired shortly after the valuation during Conservation work. The Brushwork, colouring, cherub lips, inconsistencies in drawing, and the characteristic habit of “Topping and tailing” (saving the highest quality of finish for the head and lower legs) are typical of the artist.’ Brian Stewart
The portrait thought to be Cassandra, literally the ‘sister’ portrait hanging at Kippington descended in that line, inherited by John Austen first, Colonel Thomas’s heir and nephew, then by his only child, Marianne, a daughter who married a gentleman called Smith Marriot. She was an heiress, and he was well heeled, so they emigrated to the South of France where they lived in a Bastide in Grasse, Maganosc, the Villa Mariquita on the Rue Auguste Renoir. They again had only one child, a daughter Charlotte Marianne known as May or Mai. She married firstly, a man called Dodgson, (a relative of Lewis Carroll,) by whom she had a much-loved son, Raymond, and secondly, a chap called Harrison, who died in the late 40’s. In 1951 she decided to return to her birthplace, France, her son had been killed in Somalia in the early part of the war, and the Knights of Chawton were her nearest living relations, indeed, they inherited her son’s monies on his death. May Harrison sent back some of her Austen collection to her Austen cousins, and also wrote to R.W. Chapman November 28th 1952 (from the Chapman archive in the Bodleian Library) saying she owned by descent, a portrait which she believed could be Jane Austen, and asking for an opinion. He sent her request and, (a now lost,) photograph of the picture to R.A. Austen Leigh asking for his opinion. The Austen Leigh family looked at the portrait (the letter is quoted below,) and returned the letter from Mrs. Harrison to R. W. Chapman. It never seems to have occurred to them that the portrait could have been Cassandra.
Extract from a letter written by R. A. Austen Leigh to Dr R. W. Chapman
November 28th 1952
Great Abshot
Mr Dear RWC                                              
As to the portrait it is charming and Margaret would like to believe it is JA, but after careful consideration today, helped by Winifred Jenkins, we decided against it being JA and thought the picture was more like the Zoffany girl than like JA.
Indeed, as it comes via Mrs. Harrison from the Kippington (or Capel Manor) stable, the Zoffany one belonged to a Kippington Austen, there seems quite a probability of it and the Zoffany being the same person.
But perhaps Adams will say that they cannot be the same person owing to the costume!
Many thanks for your note about the Knight pictures. I knew they were coming up for sale – but not the actual date. But I don’t want to buy any and certainly haven’t got the money.
I return the portrait.
Yours ever
R. A. Austen Leigh
P.S. I return Mrs. Harrison’s letter
Henry and I met a nephew of Mrs. Harrison’s who vaguely remembered a portrait of a girl in a white dress who looked older than the ‘Zoffany girl’, (ours,) but being young at the time, could recall no more about it. By the time Henry found out where in Grasse Mrs. Harrison could be found, she had died, leaving no will, at the age, I believe, of ninety. However, this bore out our belief that Cassandra and Jane had been painted together in 1788.
Henry carried on his research valiantly until he went nearly blind before his death in January 2010. My brother and I have continued his work to establish the true identity of the painting, and will publish our results shortly. We believe in the painting as passionately as Henry did, that this is a portrait of Jane Austen executed by Ozias Humphry R.A. in 1788, and also that it will be recognised for what it is.
Anne Rice
June 2011

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Mrs. Henry Rice continues the fascinating history of the Rice portrait with the Rev. John Morland Rice, and Admiral Sir Ernest Rice. Thank you for joining us again!

Morland Rice, the sixth owner of the portrait was the fourth son of Elizabeth Austen and Edward Royd Rice, who must have been devoted, producing fifteen children in all. He was called Morland after his mother’s ‘dear friend from girlhood’ Margaretta Morland, and received the portrait in 1883. He wrote to various members of the family about it, and was told by the elderly family historian Miss Fanny Caroline Lefroy (whose mother had known Jane Austen) that she ‘knew before of the portrait in your posession, and but for one or two difficulties would have no doubt about its authenticity’. She also believed that ‘the date on your picture is (she thinks) 1788 or 9, making her (Jane) not 14.’ She was correct, we have discovered a date on the back of Jane’s canvas of 1788, making her in that year, not quite 13. The other small difficulties were that the Rice family believed the false ‘Zoffany’ attribution, and were wondering if the portrait could have been painted in Bath.

In 1884 Morland’s first cousin Lord Brabourne, Fanny Knight’s eldest son, published the first book of Jane Austen’s letters. He discovered that Morland Rice posessed Jane’s portrait and enquired of Mr. Cholmondley Austen-Leigh (who knew the portrait) about it. Mr. Cholmondley Austen-Leigh wrote to Lord Brabourne who then wrote to his publisher Bentley, as follows: ‘Mr. Austen-Leigh writes that the evidence seems against the authenticity of the picture, which must be if authentic of Jane when a young girl of 14 or 15.’ Lord Brabourne then continues: ‘Mr. Rice’s letter, without communication with Mr. Austen-Leigh, says it is of a girl of 15, I incline to think therefore it is a true bill.’ He then published it, half-length as the frontispiece for his book.
Another letter describing John Morland’s enjoyment of the portrait was written by his niece, Marcia Rice:
“Over his drawing-room hung the portrait of Jane Austen by Zoffany – it was his great pride. Often did he relate the story of how Dr. Newman of Magdalen used to say to him – ‘You ought to posess the portrait of your great-aunt, I shall leave it to you.’ He had never the slightest doubt as to its authenticity to mar his joy in the posession of the portrait.”
Morland Rice married Caroline York in 1864 but died childless in 1897 leaving the portrait to his younger brother’s wife, his sister-in-law who had married Admiral Sir Ernest Rice.

Admiral Sir Ernest Rice 1840-1927

The seventh owner of the portrait, Sir Ernest Rice, rose to the rank of Admiral and at one point was made Governor of Malta. He is reputed to have been more than attached to the Queen of Greece, and although certainly dashing, managed to run two of his ships aground which caused him to be known as ‘Ground Rice’ in the Navy! (My husband met Lord Louis Mountbatten who asked him if the ‘Ground Rice’ who had taught him navigation was any relation. Henry said that he was, and added that the family believed his navigational skills were somewhat sketchy!) He received the painting from his wife, the sister of Morland Rice’s wife on their deaths. He hung it over the fireplace, at his home at Sibbertswold House near Dover, but unfortunately one cold December night he burnt his house down. Although 80 at the time, he himself threw all the family portraits out of the drawing room windows. Tradition has it that Jane went first, but he broke her frame when she hit the lawn, and afterwards he cut the picture down (as was the somewhat barbaric custom then to fit her into a smaller, plainer Victorian frame.)
Thus it was that Ozias Humphry’s notes along the back of the top of the portrait were folded back and hidden under the stretcher and a new lining. Ozias had run a large studio, and wrote on the back of his pictures noting the name, the date, and often initializing these notes with his distinctive OH monogram. He also did this on his miniatures and pastels. (My husband sold a small portrait of Edward Knight which had belonged to Elizabeth Austen to Chawton House Museum. A member of the public sent in a sketch of it to the museum which was inscribed on the back with his name and the date. It was painted in 1783, at the time of his adoption, and is also by Ozias Humphry.)
On his death in 1927, his daughter Gwenlian inherited Jane’s portrait; she had married Lord Northbourne, a local peer.

Next time, we shall be hearing about Lady Northbourne, and Henry Edward Harcourt Rice, the eighth and ninth owners of the portrait!

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Thomas Harding Newman
reproduced by kind permission of Edward Harding-Newman

Mrs. Rice tells us about the fifth and sixth owners of the portrait today.

Elizabeth Hall who married Colonel Thomas Harding Newman in 1818 was the fourth owner of the portrait. She was his second wife, and acquired his son by his first wife Elizabeth Cartwright, as her step-son. In family lore she was the model for Jane Austen’s “Emma” so one can only suppose her to be managing and somewhat manipulative; I wonder also if she was a good matchmaker! In any case, she was nineteen when she married and died young, again, I believe in childbirth, in 1831. Her husband married again, but on his death in 1856 the portrait was inherited by his eldest son, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Harding Newman, the fifth owner of the portrait.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Harding Newman 1811-1882

The fifth owner of the portrait never married. A don at Oxford he hung the portrait in his rooms at Magdalen College where by all accounts he was exceedingly proud of it. So proud in fact, that he decided that the portrait had been painted by Zoffany. The name Humphry is written across the right hand corner of the painting, but rather indistinctly. He may have made a genuine mistake as the names both end in y, or he may just have chosen the smarter artist. Be that as it may, this mis-attribution caused a very great problem for the poor picture later in my story. Humphry and Zoffany were great friends, and Zoffany is credited with teaching Humphry how to paint muslins and draperies whilst they were together in India. Humphry also figures in Zoffany’s famous painting ‘Colonel Mordaunt’s Cockfight’ painted in India. This helped the confusion.

Rev. Dr. Thomas Harding-Newman

Also up at Magdalen at the time, and friends of Harding-Newman, were the first cousins Lord Brabourne, and Morland Rice, Elizabeth Austen-Rice’s 4th son, an extremely clever and handsome young man who became a close friend of the Rev. Harding Newman. He always promised Morland that he would leave him the portrait in his will ” as you are a relative of the lady”. However, he died in 1822 without doing so officially. His nephew, and heir Benjamin Harding-Newman, a member of a very honorable family knew of his uncle’s wish, and gave the picture to a friend of Morland Rice’s, Dr. Bloxham, to deliver to him in 1883, the year after the Rev. Dr. Harding-Newman’s death.

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