Watercolor of Jane Austen sells for $270,000

By Samantha Ravenscroft,

A watercolor portrait of Jane Austen sold for $270,000 (164,500 pounds) at a London auction. The watercolor was painted in 1869 by James Andrews and was commissioned by Austen’s nephew. The painting was sold by the family and has rarely been seen since.

Austen died in 1817, 52 years before the painting was commissioned. According to The Associated Press, an engraving of the image will appear on the English 10 pound note by 2017.

Gabriel Heaton of Sotheby's, the auction house where the watercolor was sold, described it as "the most important likeness of Jane Austen ever likely to appear on the open market." Sotheby's said the watercolor was sold over the phone to an anonymous collector.

Some have expressed their displeasure with the painting. According to the Guardian, Paula Byrne, an Austen biographer, called it a "Victorian airbrushing." However others disagree with this opinion. Novelist Joanna Trollope said, "This portrait was commissioned half a century after Jane Austen's death, so it can hardly be claimed as a life likeness. All the same, it is all we have, and it has a lack of pretension that suits our first properly acclaimed great woman novelist."

Image: Wikimedia Commons


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