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Showing posts from June, 2011

The Rice Portrait Provenance by Mrs. Henry Rice - Mrs. Thomas Harding-Newman 1789-1831, and The Rev. Dr. Thomas Harding Newman 1811-1882

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 po…

Professor Claudia Johnson of Princeton University comments on the Rice Portrait of Jane Austen

I'd like to thank Professor Claudia Johnson of Princeton University for kindly granting permission to reproduce this article. It's a wonderful piece of writing!

If one were to contend that the portrait is not Jane Austen, one is dealing with the following scenario:

That Colonel Thomas Austen, who knew Jane Austen personally and was a member of her family gave the portrait as Jane Austen, but knowing that it was not, while innumerable people who personally knew Jane Austen were still alive, to a person who either knew Jane Austen personally or greatly admired the novelist, who accepted it as being of Jane Austen (even though it wa not) and who was married to Thomas Harding-Newman who knew Jane Austen personally and may have proposed to her and who presumably accepted it as Jane Austen (even though he knew it was not); all this at a time when innumerable people who knew Jane Austen personally were still alive.

That she (Elizabeth Hall) gave it to her step-son Dr Thomas Harding-Ne…

The Rice Portrait Provenance by Mrs. Henry Rice - Colonel Thomas Austen

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 Gov…

The Rice Portrait Provenance by Mrs. Henry Rice - Francis Motley Austen

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 pictur…

The Rice Portrait Provenance by Mrs. Henry Rice

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

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, …

The 'Rice' Portrait - a new series!

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 …