Archive for the ‘Mrs. Henry Rice’ Category

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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 Lady Northbourne, née Gwenlian Rice 1871-1952
Jane Austen, the Rice Portrait
Lady Northbourne, the eighth owner of the portrait gave the painting back to the main branch of the family, Henry Rice 1864-1943, her first cousin. Her father, Sir Ernest had considered giving it to the National Portrait Gallery, but eventually decided his cousin should have it, as he still lived in the large house, Dane Court, which had been bought by Edward Royd Rice and Elizabeth Austen on their marriage. (The then Henry Rice had owned a fast ship, the East Indiaman ‘Dutton’, which made three trips to India collecting a fortune in tea, silks, and spices.)
He had married ‘The Heiress of Dover’, Sarah Sampson, some say for a bet, and he was also known affectionately as ‘The Pirate’, again probably quite true! (She is mentioned in Jane Austen’s letters, as is their reprobate eldest son Henry, whose mother constantly paid his large debts.)
Gwenlian Northbourne stipulated that Jane should no longer hang over the fireplace, ‘as the smoke was spoiling her.’
She died in 1955.
Henry Edward Harcourt Rice 1864-1943
Left the portrait in 1928, the ninth owner of the picture did not hang it over a hot fire, and presided over an odd episode in its history. (All the following history can be checked in the files on the ‘Rice Portrait’ in the National Portrait Gallery.)
Admiral Rice and Henry Edward Harcourt Rice
In 1930, the National Portrait Gallery was expanding their stock of pictures, and the public were agitating for an image of Jane Austen. Indeed, this was the N.P.G.’s priority at that time, as they did not possess one. They deputed a lady called Mrs. Graveson to find one, and she came across an old gentleman whom she described as a ‘delightful old Victorian’. This was one John Hubback, the grandson of Admiral Sir Francis Austen, Jane’s brother. This old chap was nearly 90, but in full possession of his faculties, and had lived in the same house as his grandfather when a boy, indeed, Admiral Sir Francis had taught him to play chess. (His father, the husband of the Admiral’s daughter went insane, and they both lived with his grandfather.) He told Mrs. Graveson that his cousins, the Rices, possessed the only portrait ever painted by a professional artist, e.g. Zoffany. Mr. Hubback visited Henry Rice, my Henry’s grandfather, but was told that although he had no intention of parting with the portrait, he had, however, consented to a copy of it being made for the National Portrait Gallery. This, the family has always considered is primary evidence that it is Jane, Mr. Hubback’s grandfather Admiral Sir Francis having been unlikely to tell a lie about his own sister.
Sir Henry Hake, Director of the National Portrait Gallery somewhat huffily declined the offer of a copy, saying that the ‘N.P.G. do not deal in fakes’ – but asked for first refusal should the picture ever be sold. They then acquired the tiny ‘scratch’ by Cassandra Austen, and at this time announced in the Times that they possessed the only portrait of Jane that could be authenticated, which the Rice family felt to be an unnecessary crack at them, as they had a perfect right to keep their Great-Great-Aunt Jane if they wished to.
 However, in the 1940’s R.W. Chapman raised doubts over the ‘Zoffany’ attribution, Zoffany having been in India until 1791, whilst Ozias Humphry had returned to England in the spring of 1788. He consulted a man called Adams, who because he himself could not discover a girl wearing a comparable dress to the Rice portrait, pronounced that the dress was 19th century, not 18th century. Marie Antoinette herself sent a high-waisted muslin gown to the Duchess of Devonshire in the 1780’s, which she wore to the Prince Regent’s ball to great acclaim. From the 1760’s, children and young adolescents had been wearing this type of gown, the forerunner of the fashion, which adults adopted.
The Rice portrait remained quietly at Dane Court until inherited by my Henry’s father, Edward Rice, in 1943.

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Colonel Thomas Austen
Reproduced by kind permission of the owner –
 from a private collection

Mrs. Henry Rice joins me today for part three of the Rice Portrait Provenance. The history of the painting is a fascinating one, and I’ve loved hearing about all of the owners, but I must admit, I think Colonel Thomas’s biography is one of the most interesting! Thank you for joining us again.

Colonel Thomas Austen, (1775 – 1859) the third owner of the portrait, was Jane’s second cousin, and a great friend of Edward Knight, her brother. They were both fanatical cricketers, and played in the Duke of Dorset’s (the founder of the MCC’s) team, called at one point, ‘The Gentlemen of Kent’. Elizabeth Austen, my husband Henry’s great, great grandmother, knew him well. We know from her that he rode very well to hounds, was a fine shot, and also played the violin. His mother, Elizabeth Motley Austen (née Wilson) had had a great admirer called Sir Horace Mann who also taught him to play brilliant cricket.
His army career was very distinguished, and he was made Governor of the Algarve during the Penninsular wars, (where he was reprimanded by the top brass for being too easy on French spies!)
He fought in America in the 40th regiment of foot, the Green Jackets, and under Wellington, and visited South Africa, Canada, and the West Indies.

Kippington House

In 1803, he married the obligatory heiress, (as his eldest brother Lucius was not stable) one Margaretta Morland whose family had made a fortune out of sugar and rum in the West Indies. Colonel Thomas and Margaretta married in Bath in 1803, and Margaretta was left behind at Kippington with his mother and father, whilst he was abroad. They had no children, and during his long absences Margaretta turned a wing at Kippington into a small school-like operation; looking after motherless girls of friends whose mothers had died in childbed. Sadly, those abounded in the eighteenth century, and thereby hangs a tale. Both Elizabeth and Fanny Austen, Edward Austen/Knight’s daughters stayed with her, and so did Elizabeth Hall, the only daughter of another rich Jamaican plantation owner, Thomas Hall. Again, in family recollection, he was a terrible hypochondriac, and the two of them are supposed to be the inspiration for ‘Emma’, and her father ‘Mr. Woodhouse’. This is borne out by archives which refer to a letter written to him by a friend telling him to pull himself together, think of his daughter and stop complaining about his health, (after his wife’s death).
The motherless girls were referred to as Margaretta’s ‘protegés’, and when the portrait of Jane was given to Elizabeth Hall on her marriage to Colonel Thomas Harding-Newman in 1818, it explains why she knew the family, Jane, and the portrait so well. She was given it because she was ‘a great admirer of the novelist’, not just of her books, but of Jane herself.

Colonel Thomas’s possessions were all also entailed, but his friend Thomas Harding-Newman had proposed to Jane, his wife-to-be had known her, so perhaps he felt the pleasure he was giving them outweighed the entail problem! Henry and I met the Harding-Newman family; they are quite charming, and said that their ancestor was not the handsomest chap in the world, (the family name for him was ‘Old Mossy Face’) and they could understand why Jane had turned him down!
So Jane was separated from Cassandra in 1818, to descend for one generation through the Harding-Newman family, leaving her sister at Kippington.

Colonel Thomas married again in 1826 aged 50 (after Margaretta’s death in 1825) to the local belle Caroline Manning aged 18; but again the marriage was childless. His heir was his nephew, John-Francis Austen, to whose descendant, Charlotte Marianne, or May Austen, Cassandra’s portrait descended in direct line.

Godmersham Park

Colonel Austen and Margaretta were always very close to Edward Knight’s family, and therefore also close to Edward Royd Rice, Henry’s ancestor. Indeed, during their engagement Edward injured himself in a fall from a horse and whilst he recovered, Elizabeth went to stay with Colonel Thomas and Margaretta at Kippington.
Colonel Thomas and Margaretta stayed at Godmersham for the wedding of Elizabeth Austen to Edward Royd Rice, in 1818 on October 6th, the day before Edward Knight’s birthday, and the story goes that the bride of 18 ran around the tops of the garden walls after the ceremony still wearing her wedding dress! It must have been a wonderful party!

Colonel Thomas Austen died in 1859, by all accounts a much loved patron and landowner.

Anne Rice June 2011

I have loved hearing about the connections between this branch of the family and Jane Austen’s family. Next time, I shall be adding my own comments about this particular part of the provenance, and by kind permission of Professor Claudia Johnson, the Murray Professor of English Literature at Princeton University, I will be reproducing some of her writing on the subject!

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 Francis Motley Austen
Reproduced by kind permission of the owner
-from a private collection

Mrs. Francis Motley Austen
Reproduced by kind permission of the owner
-from a private collection

In the second part of this series of blog posts on the provenance of the Rice portrait, Mrs. Henry Rice talks about the second owner of the portrait,  Francis Motley Austen.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Mrs. Rice – I know everyone will enjoy reading more of the portrait’s history!

Francis Motley Austen, Uncle Francis’s eldest son by his wife Anne Motley who died in childbirth in 1747, was the second owner of the portraits. In 1791 he inherited a large fortune from his father, and several estates as well as The Red House, Wilmington, and Lamberhurst where he lived. In 1796 he foreclosed on Kippington Park, an estate adjoining Knole, and (having removed the family called Farnaby,) moved his family in. Kippington is a large house, and he may have wished to leave the trappings of ‘trade’ behind him. There is some suggestion that he paid Ozias in 1796 for the pictures (a bill in his account books of Austen-Clarige which consists of ‘My bill on you, for pictures at Kippington, 30 pounds, 7 shillings was paid – eg. fifteen pounds, three shillings and sixpence each.)
By all accounts Francis Motley did not favour his Austen cousins as had his father for he did not present them with the portraits, but in any case, his father had left everything entailed, which meant he was also unable to give them away. As well as the portraits Francis Motley Austen inherited Uncle Francis’s good collection of Italian paintings that he had amassed during his life, which also would have looked well at Kippington. This also explains why the portraits were not so generally known in Hampshire being painted and held in Kent.

Lucius Austen
Reproduced by kind permission of the owner
-from a private collection

Francis Motley and his wife Elizabeth Wilson had 11 children. Their eldest son Lucius married, but had only two daughters, and then went irrevocably mad, and was disinherited by Act of Parliament. His younger brother Thomas Austen eventually inherited on his father’s death in 1815, although he did not actually move into Kippington until his mother’s death in 1817. We discovered Thomas’s marriage certificate; he married Margaretta Morland in 1803, in Bath, and he is described as being a ‘Resident of this Parish’; ergo Francis Motley had a house in Bath, which is also supposed to have belonged to Uncle Francis before him. Uncle Francis had had many dealings with shipping and trade in Bristol so a house in Bath would have suited him well. He certainly could have afforded it. My late husband Henry discovered that he also had ‘a finger in the pie’ at Coalbrookdale in the industrial revolution, and had known Abraham Derby – what a mover and shaker he must have been – not just a quiet Sevenoaks solicitor!
Anne Rice June 2011

Thank you, Mrs. Rice for another fascinating account! Next time we’ll be looking at the third owner of the portrait, Colonel Thomas Austen.

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In the first of a new series of blog posts, I’d like to welcome Mrs. Henry Rice who is going to be telling us all about the provenance of the ‘Rice’ Portrait of Jane Austen. Written in her own words is her account taken from letters and documents which her husband Henry Rice collated over many years. I’m sure you will enjoy reading this fascinating insight as much as I have!

The Rice Portrait Provenance – Its Owners by Mrs. Henry Rice

Great Uncle Francis

This story, and the portrait of Jane Austen started in the summer of 1788 when George Austen took his wife, and his two young daughters, Cassandra aged 15, and Jane aged not quite 13 years old to visit their Great Uncle Francis Austen at his home called The Red House in Sevenoaks, Kent. Francis Austen was an enormously rich and successful man, he had been head of Lincoln’s Inn in London, and owned properties in Essex, as well as in Kent. He was an expert in the settling, and safeguarding of large estates by entail, and by inheritance, and counted some of the most important families in England amongst his clients; the Dorsets, the Berkeleys, and Cravens, amongst others.
In 1788, he was 90 years old, having been born in 1698 in the reign of Queen Anne. His second wife Jane had been Jane Austen’s godmother, but was now dead, and Francis was indulging himself in his old age as a benevolent family patriarch. Ozias Humphry, much patronised by Francis’s main employer and patron, the Duke of Dorset had already painted him at the Duke’s request once, and at his own once again for The Red House.
Francis had always been a kind and generous patron of his nephew George Austen. It is hardly surprising that he was persuaded, or perhaps cajoled, into commissioning the portraits of his two great nieces from his friend Ozias, who was rather down on his luck at the time having returned from India in the spring of 1788, with little success and somewhat short of money. Ozias always demanded half his fee for his portraits ‘up front’, his accounts show that he charged about 13 guineas first, and the second half on completion. He made a note of Francis Austen’s death in 1791, which implies money owing to him.

Edward Austen
Jane Austen, the ‘Rice Portrait’

The family has always believed that after the portraits of Cassandra and Jane were commissioned in the summer of 1788, Ozias Humphry stayed at Godmersham Park that autumn, and there executed sketches and drawings of the backgrounds in the park. On the 7th October that year Edward Austen-Knight was 21 years old, and again family tradition has it that he returned from the first leg of his Grand Tour for his Coming of Age celebrations with his adoptive parents. His own portrait, also signed OH, places him within the Godmersham grounds in front of a large English oak tree,  the old temple ruins in the background, and also graves from Godmersham churchyard.
Jane’s background includes the river Stour that flows to the left of the big house, and in both pictures the same autumnal colours are used, as well as the depiction of stormy skies. It’s interesting to note the stance in both of the portraits, the angles of the cane and the parasol are almost identical. Ozias having been trained as a miniaturist and a very fine one, had difficulty in many of his paintings in the execution of limbs painted in large. Note the elongation of Edward’s arm holding his hat, and Jane’s elongated arm holding the parasol.
As with much of the inherited Austen artefacts and documents, over time they were split amongst family members. The last descendant of the Kippington Austen line may well have owned the portrait of Cassandra. May Harrison lived out her final years in Grasse, France, and on November 28th 1952 she wrote to R.W. Chapman saying she owned by descent, a portrait which she believed could be Jane Austen. Mrs. Harrison’s nephew remembers her possessing a painting of a girl dressed in white, but it was not always hung as she rotated her pictures. No one seems to have considered that this could have been the portrait of Cassandra, but I shall be writing more about this story later on.
  As was the usual custom Ozias would have finished the portraits in his London studio, and kept them until he received payment for the second tranche of the paintings. Thomas Knight is believed to have commissioned Edward’s portrait, (Ozias certainly copied the Romney portrait of his wife Catherine Knight for him. It is a small oval miniature that he could carry with him.)
Uncle Francis died in 1791, and the two portraits were inherited by his eldest son, Francis Motley Austen, the second owner of the portrait.
Anne Rice June 2011

Next time, Mrs. Rice will be writing about Francis Motley Austen, the second owner of the portrait.

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The ‘Rice’ Portrait of Jane Austen

This is the stunning portrait believed to be of Jane Austen that is known as the ‘Rice’ portrait because it was inherited by the late Henry Rice, a direct descendant of Jane’s brother Edward Austen/Knight. My interest in this portrait began a few years ago, but earlier this year, Mrs. Henry Rice and her brother Mr. Robin Roberts contacted me about another portrait they thought I’d be interested to know about, a painting that seems to have been overlooked, which could possibly be of the Austen family, (you can read about that here).
I have always loved the ‘Rice’ portrait, which is just how I imagine a young Jane looked so when Mrs. Rice suggested meeting up for a chat about our mutual fascination with all things Jane Austen, I couldn’t wait to meet her! I had so many questions I wanted to ask and Anne was so generous with her time, answering everything I wanted to know. It’s always lovely to meet someone else who is as interested by Jane Austen and her life as I am, and we’ve met many times since. Mrs. Rice very kindly gave me the opportunity to go to Paris to see the portrait, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to go and see Jane for myself!

  My husband and I set off very early to get the Eurostar train to Paris – we hadn’t been to Paris for such a long time so it was an enormous treat! We had a little time to visit some tourist sites – just walking through Paris is always so wonderful, and to sit in a cafe to have lunch whilst watching the world pass by is an event in itself.

Eva Schwan and the ‘Rice’ Portrait

We were to see the portrait at the studio of Eva Schwan, the restorer who has been responsible for cleaning Jane, and bringing her back to life. Eva is a very talented lady with an M.A. not only from the Institut National du Patrimoine, but she also has an M.A. from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, so it was fascinating to hear about her work. She spent many months painstakingly cleaning the portrait, little by little, and Eva told me how Jane seemed to look more and more pleased as her little gold earrings sparkled once more, and as the glossy spots on her gown twinkled again. It was a little like removing her make-up, Eva said, as the years of dirt and conservation paint were stripped away to reveal Ozias Humphry’s original brushwork. I have to say the painting is absolutely beautiful. Jane looks fresher, and younger, and the soft curl is evident in her hair once more. The leaves on the trees are turning, their tips dashed with autumnal hues, and the sky overhead is a dramatic one, providing the perfect foil for her sheer gauzy muslin, with a slip of pink persian just revealed through the diaphanous layers. As Eva said, her slippers are back to their original tint – they look softer, almost like velvet, the colour of mink. The little green parasol doesn’t look as if it will be strong enough to withstand a shower from the indigo sky above, but here is a young girl on the brink of becoming an adult, and doesn’t she look proud to be holding such a trophy? Professor Marilyn Butler made the point in a Times article that Jane Austen makes reference to a young girl Mary and a parasol in her unfinished work, SanditonAnd I will get Mary a little parasol, which will make her as proud as can be. How grave she will walk about with it and fancy herself quite a little woman.

I completely agree, I’m sure this was a memory Jane had herself of having her own parasol. I shall be writing more on the subject later on.
It was wonderful to see the painting, and to meet Eva who chatted passionately about her work. It was a fabulous day that I shall never forget.

I am going to be doing a series of posts about the Rice portrait, on the provenance of the painting, including new evidence, and also about past misconceptions. I have asked Mrs. Rice if she would write about the history of the painting for us in her own words, as I think you’ll be fascinated to hear about its story. I have loved hearing all about it, and have been privileged to have access to files of letters, pictures and documents from the Rice family, and other Austen family members. I shall be bringing these to your attention over the next few weeks! In due course, Mrs. Rice will be including all the new information on a website made especially for the purpose, so as soon as it’s up and running, I will let you know!
There is some additional information on the artist Ozias Humphry who painted the portrait here and here.
Jane Odiwe

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