Jane Austen was born in 1775, the same year as Mrs. Robert Shurlock (born Henrietta Ann Jane Russell). Had Jane married and given birth to a child in 1801, would she have presented as charming a picture as Mrs. Shurlock and her daughter Ann? Both women would have been twenty-six years of age at the time. From this description of Jane, Mrs. Shurlock could well have been a relative, for according to her nephew James Austen-Leigh, his aunt Jane 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.”
John Russell, the painter and sitter’s father, was known for his skills with pastels, as this image from the Metropolitan Museum of Art clearly demonstrates. Henrietta took lessons from her father and became a talented artist in her own right.