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An Art Restorer's Assessment of the Rice Portrait of Jane Austen

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