antique books, antiquarian books, james stanier clarke, friendship book, watercolour portrait of jane austen The Unique Friendship Book
Rev. James Stanier Clarke (1765 - 1834)
    An Original Watercolour Portrait of Jane Austen
(one of only three portraits of the novelist in existence)
As shown on the BBC's "Antiques Roadshow" programme 14th May 2000
This is the very important, recently recognised, 19th Century Portrait of Jane Austen,  painted in 1815 and discovered in the exceptional "Liber Amicorum"  (Friendship Book) belonging to the Rev. James Stanier Clarke, the Librarian of the Prince Regent (later King George IV of Great Britain and Ireland).  Clarke was a competent, if amateur, watercolourist whom Jane Austen acknowledged as her friend in the last letter she wrote to him in 1816.    Detailed and solid evidence of the Book and the Watercolour has been published in "James Stanier Clarke and his Watercolour Portrait of Jane Austen" by Richard James Wheeler and is available.
Watercolour Portrait of Jane Austen
This portrait of Jane Austen makes Clarke's Friendship Book a literary treasure of inordinate rarity.  The National Portrait Gallery in England incorrectly claims an absolute monopoly in Jane Austen portraiture by owning the only depiction of Jane Austen in the world which (they say) "can be authenticated": (ie by the Gallery themselves).  Their picture is a very slight and unflattering drawing reputedly made by her sister Cassandra; but largely disseminated to the public at large by numerous illustrators in an "improved" version.  It has been described as "a disappointing scratch" and is a desperately poor memorial of the novelist.  Nevertheless physiognomists identify the sitter as the same person appearing in Clarke's watercolour.

The National Portrait Gallery's claim to a monopoly is incorrect.  There are in fact just three portraits of the novelist (including Clarke's) which are known and claimed to be authentic.
This is a contemporary portrait of the novelist, whose true appearance has been a matter of conjecture for almost two centuries; and who has presented the literary world with a problem almost as difficult as finding a true portrait of portraitless William Shakespeare.
The Watercolour Portrait of
Jane Austen, painted by James Stanier Clarke in 1815 and contained in his Friendship Book
6 ¼" x 3 ¾ " (16 cm x 9 ¾ cm)
antique book - Friendship Book
The Friendship Book itself is a time-capsule from the Age of Sensibility, beautifully bound in its original tooled green morocco.
It contains, additionally, more than 100 contemporary paintings, drawings, holograph texts, verses (mostly signed and dated) and autographs by notable artists, authors, poets, sculptors and naval characters of the late 18th and early 19th centuries: (eg George Romney, John Russell, John Flaxman, William Hodges, William Hayley, Anna Seward, Charlotte Smith, Nicholas Pocock, Nelson's Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy).
Some of the Contents of The Friendship Book
Verse by Charlotte Smith, the celebrated 18th Century novelist.  Dated and signed by her 23rd January 1793 Brighthelmstone (now Brighton)
Verse by Charlotte Smith
Watercolour by John Russell, the
celebrated portraitist and astronomer
Wash drawing by John Flaxman, Sculptor and Artist, of Holy Mother and Child with St John
Watercolour by John Russell
"A telescopic appearance of the southern limb of the Moon on 7th August 1787 at 3 0'clock in the morning"
Wash drawing by John Flaxman
It is a copy of a large oil painting of the same subject now in the Paul Getty Collection.  Reproduced in Watercolour for Clarke and signed John Russell October 15th 1796.
Crayon-and-wash portrait of Princess Caroline of Brunswick painted by Clarke in March 1795 and never before published.  A good and easily recognisable likeness of the Princess proving Clarke's ability to make a portrait.
Naive watercolour of Naval Engagement between an English and a French warship subscribed by Fritz Pourtales, 26th July 1792, in anticipation of inevitable war.
Princess Caroline of Brunswick
Naval Watercolour
Click here to view/download the full contents in PDF format.
Enquiries to ARTWORKS at the address below
Following is a substantial extract from an article written by PROF. JOAN RAY, PRESIDENT OF THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA (JASNA) published in "Persuasions" No 27, The Jane Austen Journal.  In this article, Professor Ray explains why she is now convinced the Clarke Portrait does indeed depict Jane Austen and should be recognised as such.

Joan Klingel Ray, Ph.D., has served as JASNA's President sicne 2000.  She is Professor of English and President's Teaching Scholar at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and has published on Dr.Johnson, Mrs.Piozzi, Dickens, Austen, and others.  Richard James Wheeler, now an octogenarian, flew with the RAF in WWII, after which he completed his qualifications as a Chartered Accountant, practicing his profession in business until the late 1980's.  A lifelong bibliophile, he encountered Clarke's Friendship Book.

While researching my 2005 AGM Plenary Session talk at the British Library, I stumbled upon Richard James Wheeler's book about James Stanier Clarke's portrait of Jane Austen.  Waiting for my book delivery, I typed "Jane Austen" into the library's computer catalogue and after scrolling down 400+ titles, I encountered his book on the Clarke portrait.  Throughout his life, Richard Wheeler indulged his main avocation: books.  His love of books led him serendipitously to the bookstore where he found Clarke's Friendship Book!

Admirers of Jane Austen are familiar with Cassandra Austen's small pencil and water-color sketch of her sister's face and its Victorian copies (Record, plate VIII, and accompanying illustrations between 128 and 129).  Literary and art historians deem the Cassandra portrait, in the possession of London's National Portrait Gallery since 1948, as the only known authentic likeness of Jane Austen's face taken when she was an adult.  But another portrait of the adult Jane Austen, also a sketch in pencil and watercolors and also small (6 inches by 4 inches) exists: the work of the Rev.James Stanier Clarke, Domestic Chaplain and Librarian to the Prince of Wales (later, George IV).

Clarke is known to Austenites for escorting the author through Carlton House, the Prince Regent's London residence, on Monday, 13 November 1815, when she went to see the Prince's Library, and then engaging her in an epistolary exchange in which he urged her "to delineate in some future Work the Habits of Life and Character and enthusiasm of a Clergyman who should pass his time between the metropolis & the Country
Fond of, & entirely engaged in Literature no man's Enemy but his own" (16 November 1815).  If he had also described himself as a fine sketch artist, he might have been regarded by Austen biographers with greater seriousness, rather than as the comical man who was loath to give up having Jane Austen feature him in a romantic novel.

Richard Wheeler's finding the Clarke portrait of Jane Austen is almost the stuff of a romantic novel or at least the stuff of a novel about a lover of antique books.  In 1955, a second-hand book dealer in Canterbury, Kent, found at the estate sale of a proverbial "little old lady" a small slip case containing an album bound in eighteenth-century green morocco leather decorated with gild.  The gilded words Sacred To Friendship (hereafter called Friendship Book) appeared on the upper part of the spine; on the lower were the gilded initials "J.S.C." (Wheeler 6). Richard Wheeler came upon this book in the estate sale visitor's secondhand bookstore.

Within the covers, he found the paper watermarked, authenticating it as eighteenth-century paper.  And on those pages, he discovered more than one hundred drawings, verses, and autographs by such celebrities as poet William Cowper, painter George Romney, novelists Charlotte Smith and Anna Seward, and actors Richard Brinsley Sheridan and John Kemble.  Crayon and water-color sketches of two unnamed women appear in the book.  The Tate Gallery assisted Wheeler in identifying one subject as Princess Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick: the likeness of the sketch to any number of portraits of the twenty-six year old German Princess is stunning.  It also serves to show the artist's ability to capture in a quickly drawn sketch a true likeness of his royal subject.  In March 1795, Clarke was a Royal Navy chaplain serving on board H.M.S. Jupiter, which was taking the Princess to England to be married to her cousin, the future George IV (Wheeler 20).  Thus, Clarke would have certainly seen the royal passenger, particularly at the Services over which he presided as chaplain, enabling him to sketch a small portrait from memory.  Unlike Emma Woodhouse, he did not need his subject to pose.

Richard Wheeler made the connection between the second woman depicted in Clarke's album with Jane Austen only after seeing a photo of Cassandra's sketch of her sister and its familiar Victorian round-eyed copy that Andrews made for the frontispiece of the Memoir and then reading in A Family Record what Mrs. Elizabeth "Lizzy" Austen Rice (Edward Austen Knight's daughter, born 1800) had written to her cousin, James Edward, after seeing the frontispiece picture of their Aunt Jane in his Memoir
. "I remember her so well & loved her so much how well the portrait has been lithographed!  I think it very like only the eyes are too large, not for beauty but for likeness" (254).  As Wheeler reports, when he observed "the similarities with the face of the lady in Clarke's Friendship Book," his attention was "jolted" (8).

The next step was to match the clothing worn by the figure with descriptions of clothes and accessories that Jane Austen mentions to her sister in her letters.  The similarities are remarkable.  For example, the picture shows the figure in a white gauze gown, mostly covered by a black cape, but the gown's d
écolleté neckline, dotted with black trim, is visible; its long sleeves are tucked into gloves that extend to the elbow.  On 9 March 1814, Jane Austen wrote from London to Cassandra: "I wear my gauze gown today, long sleeves & all I have no reason to suppose long sleeves are allowable. I have lowered the bosom especially at the corners, & plaited black stain ribbon around the top."  It appears that Jane Austen, herself, was as concerned about long sleeves as Mrs.Bennet is in Pride and Prejudice (140)!

In her previous letter to Cassandra, she also speaks of trimming her gown: "I have determined to trim my lilac sarsenet [a fine smooth material] with black satin (sic) ribbon
Ribbon trimmings are all the fashion at Bath, & I dare say the fashions of the two places [i.e., Bath and London] are alike enough in that point, to content me" (8 March 1814).

If the lady in the picture looks dressed up, keep in mind that when Jane Austen visited Carlton House, she would have surely worn her best, dressiest clothes.

But the most convincing evidence that Clarke's portrait is, indeed, of Jane Austen, comes from two scientific sources.  Richard Wheeler notes that the sketch possibly shows "a chilling augury" of her fatal illness, Addison's disease.  Clara Lowry, M.D., an endocrinologist at St. Thomas's Hospital, London, who examined a photo of the Clarke portrait, observed:

"[T]here is an area of pigmentation below the lower lip in the centre of the face and there is an irregular area of pigmentation underneath the chin centrally as well.  Her pigment can therefore be said to be very patchy
[T]he patient with Addison's disease will have a particularly striking pattern of areas with no pigmentation adjacent to areas of excessive pigmentation.  I think it is just possible that this is what we are looking at in Jane Austen." (Letter, July 25, 1995).

At the JASNA Annual General Meeting in Wisconsin for 2005, two physicians, Cheryl Kinney, M.D. and Cynthia Lopez, M.D. confirmed Dr. Zachary Cope's 1964 diagnosis of Addison's disease, using not only the symptoms described in her letters, but also Regency and modern medical knowledge.  In doing so, Dr. Lopez discounted Hodgkins Disease as the cause of Austen's death (Upfal).

Studies by physiognomist Alfred Linney of the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering, University College, London, observed that the Cassandra and Clarke portraits show women with similar hairstyles and face shapes.  He further noted resemblances between the faces in the two pictures to Jane Austen's brothers and father of whom we have portraits especially the so-called Greek noses shared by the Rev. George Austen and the novelist's brothers James and Henry.  Most convincingly, he determined that the two female faces share the same vertical facial measurements and proportions from eye to nose to mouth to chin (wheeler 36-37).

Dr. Linney's findings regarding vertical facial measurements were corroborated using an Electronic Facial Identification Test, practiced by many police departments: the horizontal pixel lines for the faces in the Cassandra and Clarke portraits were identical.  The forensic scientist who carried out the tests concluded, albeit with scientific defensive rhetoric, that "there is a strong probability that they are one and the same persons" (Wheeler 39).  Another authority, Richard Neave, a medical artist at the University of Manchester who has worked on the reconstruction of ancient Egyptian skulls for the British Museum, cautiously determined that "Cassandra's picture reflects many of the strong family likenesses
Clarke's drawing is much idealized.  As far as the face is concerned, it can be said to be of a type 'a pretty doll like face'" (Wheeler 41).  Ironically, he unknowingly echoed the description provided by the Rev. Fulwar Fowle, who described Jane Austen's face as "pretty like a doll" (Record 246).

Karen Joy Fowler begins her novel The Jane Austen Book Club saying, "Each of us has a private Austen" (1).  Likewise, each of us has a mental image of the physical Jane.  As far as the Austen world knows, she never sat for a formal portrait as an adult.  But the authors of this article believe that the woman painted in James Stanier Clarke's Friendship Book is indeed, Jane Austen.  Granted, London's National portrait Gallery is unwilling to authenticate the Clarke portrait as Jane Austen.  We speculate, however, that the Gallery's acceptance of R.W. chapman's suggestion that no one but Jane Austen could be the subject of the silhouette labelled "L'aimable Jane" in a second volume of Mansfield Park is founded more on faith than on the scientific investigation on which Richard Wheeler bases his conclusions (214).
Evidence dealing with the Portraiture of Jane Austen.

"James Stanier Clarke and his Watercolour Portrait of Jane Austen" by Richard James Wheeler.  Published by Codex Publications, Sevenoaks in 1998.  Limited edition, ISBN 1 900 709 02 3.  £25.00

"The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen" by Richard James Wheeler.  Published by Codex Publications, Sevenoaks in 1996 (including a summary of conclusive evidence).  ISBN 1 900 709 00 7.  £20.00
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