As we get closer and closer to the Jane Austen Festival here in Bath, our excitement only grows as we also get closer to receiving the iconic portrait of Jane normally held by the National Portrait Gallery in London. The portrait is the only accepted depiction of Jane in existence, as reported by museum officials, and is rarely loaned to other institutions.
The rare portrait was sketched by Jane's sister Cassandra, dated to around roughly 1810 because of her age and dress. It is reported the portrait is in a delicate condition and serious care must be taken to safely transport the piece between the National Portrait Gallery and The Holburne Museum. We are incredibly lucky to be receiving the piece here in Bath for fans to delight over during the festival and cannot wait for the portrait to be displayed only some feet away from where Jane once lived at 4 Sydney Place.
It is thought Jane was familiar with the building now occupied by The Holburne Museum, as she mentioned it on a number of occasions in her correspondences. It truly is an honour for the city to hold this portrait and will undoubtedly add to the merriment of the festival. If you are unable to visit us here in Bath but would still like to see the portrait, you can join The Holburne Museum via zoom for their talk 'Picturing Jane Austen' on the 16th of September.
Words by Hannah England