My poor beloved Jane:
What many believe to be the only painting of Jane Austen will be auctioned in New York in April by Christie's, a relation of the English author and owner of the picture said.
But Henry Rice, a "sixth generation descendant" of the writer of classics such as "Emma," "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice," believes the sale of a picture that has divided experts will not be without controversy.
In 1948, a leading Austen scholar dismissed the authenticity of the portrait, saying the style of costume the subject wears does not match the date.
Rice and his family never doubted the lively girl wearing a long white dress and carrying a parasol was their ancestor...
So he had the painting examined by a number of academics, including Austen scholar Professor Claudia Johnson at Princeton University in the United States, and they supported the original attribution and subject matter...
He [Rice] offered the painting to the National Portrait Gallery in London several times, but they turned it down because of doubts over the authenticity of its subject.
"So we decided to take it to America where it has more friends."
Christie's auctioneers is sufficiently sure of recent research to go ahead with the sale of the painting, by English society artist Ozias Humphry.
"Christie's supports the Rice portrait as a true depiction of Jane Austen and is honored to have been chosen by the family to organize a public auction," the company said in a statement.
Not only does Jane have to suffer fools for descendents but greedy fools to boot. Then, because of their greed, she has been forced to suffer the indignation of total embarassment:
...The painting, which depicts a young woman in a full-length white dress holding a green parasol, failed to reach its reserve price, Christie's auction house said. It had been expected to fetch between 400,000 and 800,000 dollars...
The controversy over the portrait goes back to the 1940s, when leading Austen scholar R.W. Chapman said that the fashions in the picture dated from 1805 or later, and not from the late 1780s, when it was supposedly painted.
Another debate has focused on the supplier's stamp on the reverse of the original canvas. Detractors say the merchant's mark does not fit with the period, while Christie's disputed both arguments...
When it comes to Jane Austen, never ever question anything Dr. R. W. Chapman said about her. He understood Jane Austen better than anyone. This whole pathetic attempt by her descendents to grab some cash from dumb, rich Americans would have made Jane laugh. Just think what happened here. Jane exposed her poor excuses of relatives to be very much like characters of her own creation. If that weren't enough good stuff, she has proven beyond a resonable doubt that Christie's and Princeton University haven't a clue as to what they are talking about or willing to sell a fraud for a hefty fee.
Not bad for a woman who has been in her grave for 190 years this July.