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The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen - the background story to the new evidence!

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