In light of the recent movie about Jane Austen – On Becoming Jane – and the Rice Portrait that will be auctioned by Christie’s Auction House in mid-April, I’ve included some verbal descriptions to round out the few known portraits of her that exist.
Jane’s nephew, James Austen-Leigh remembers his aunt as thus, “Tall and slender, her step light and firm … she had full round cheeks, with mouth and nose small and well formed, light hazel eyes, and brown hair forming natural curls close round her face.” Eliza de Feuillide wrote of Jane and Cassandra, “Her sister and herself are two of the prettiest girls in England …perfect beauties and of course gain hearts by dozens.”
Author David Cecil, who wrote A Portrait of Jane Austen, disagrees slightly with this over effusive assessment, saying, “This must be taken as an example of Eliza’s fashionable gush rather than as a statement of exact truth; no one else has ever described either Jane or Cassandra as ‘perfect beauties’. But it is clear that both were noticeably pretty girls; and, what was of more importance, pretty in the style admired by the gentlemen of the period. Jane’s features, though small and well-formed, were less regular than Cassandra’s – as Egerton Brydges had pointed out, her face was too full and round-cheeked – but this was more than compensated for by a more brilliant complexion, a livelier expression and the general effect her personality conveyed of glow and health and animations.” P. 65-66
Find other posts about Jane’s likeness on this blog: