Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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

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.

Monday, June 27, 2011

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:
Jane Austen The Rice Portrait

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-Newman, a don at Magdalen College Oxford, who knew many people who had known Jane Austen personally and accepted it as being of Jane Austen (even though it was not) and that he gave it, via another don, to a member of Jane Austen's family.

That in 1884 the historian of the family whose mother had lived in the same house as Jane Austen for ten years (and had only died twelve years before 1884) had INDEPENDENTLY CORROBORATED the identity of the sitter as Jane Austen, but she must have been mistaken. ("She knew before of the painting in your possession").
Professor Claudia Johnson - Murray Professor of English Literature, Princeton University

(The historian of the family referred to is Fanny-Caroline Lefroy)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

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

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!

Monday, June 20, 2011

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

 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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

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

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.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The 'Rice' Portrait - a new series!

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