When: Saturday, November 5, 2022, 2:00 – 4:00 pm What: Talk on “Gender and the Decorative Arts in Jane Austen’s Novels” with Kristen Miller Zohn* Where: Bluffton Library, 120 Palmetto Way, Bluffton, SC
During the Georgian period, women and men alike had a great interest in architecture, interior design, and fashion, and there was an expectation that the concepts of femininity and masculinity would be reflected in these spheres. This slide lecture will present images of decorative arts, interior design, and clothing to explore how those that are presented in Austen’s novels speak to the roles of women and men in her era.
*Kristen Miller Zohn is the Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Lauren, Mississippi, as well as the Executive Director of the Costume Society of America.
Please RSVP: jasnavermont [at] gmail.com or the Bluffton Library, 843-255-6503
“It is amazing to me,” said Bingley, “how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are.”
“All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?”
“Yes, all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover screens, and net purses. I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.”
“Your list of the common extent of accomplishments,” said Darcy, “has too much truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse or covering a screen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished.”
“Nor I, I am sure,” said Miss Bingley.
“Then,” observed Elizabeth, “you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished woman.”
“Yes, I do comprehend a great deal in it.”
“Oh! certainly,” cried his faithful assistant, “no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.”
“All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”
“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”
“Are you so severe upon your own sex as to doubt the possibility of all this?”
“I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe united.”
[Pride & Prejudice, Vol. 1, Ch. 8]
And so, to truly understand what Mr. Darcy is driving at, to understand anything about Jane Austen’s world, you need to study this quite formidable lady, if indeed such a one existed! – and there is no better book on the subject than Noël Riley’s The Accomplished Lady: A History of Genteel Pursuits c.1660-1860(Oblong, 2017).
“This is a study of the skills and pastimes of upper-class women and the works they produced during a 200-year period. These activities included watercolours, printmaking and embroidery, shell work, rolled and cut paper work, sand painting, wax flower modelling, painting on fabrics and china, leather work, japanning, silhouettes, photography and many other activities, some familiar and others little known.
The context for these activities sets the scene: the general position of women in society and the constraints on their lives, their virtues and values, marriage, domestic life and education. This background is amplified with chapters on other aspects of women’s experience, such as sport, reading, music, dancing and card-playing.”[from the book jacket].
Table of Contents:
1. A Woman’s Lot 2. Educating a Lady 3. Reading and Literary Pursuits [my favorite chapter] 4. Cards, Indoor Games and Theatricals 5. The Sporting Lady 6. Dancing and Public Entertainment 7. Music 8. Embroidery 9. Threads and Ribbons 10. Beadwork 11. Shellwork 12. Nature into Art 13. Paperwork 14. Drawing and Painting 15. Creativity with Paints and Prints 16. Japanning 17. Penwork 18. Silhouettes 19. Photography and the Victorian Lady 20. Sculpture, Carving, Turning and Metalwork 21. Toys and Trifles.
Includes extensive notes, an invaluable bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and an index.
I have mentioned before that in collecting Jane Austen, you will often go off into necessary tangents to learn about her Life and Times – this can take you in any number of directions, but understanding the Domestic Arts of the Regency period is an absolute must – and there are MANY books on the subject, cookery alone could fill shelves. But here in this one book we find a lavishly illustrated, impeccably researched study of all the possible activities a lady of leisure [no cookery for My Lady] can get herself caught up in….whether she becomes accomplished or not is beyond our knowing, but certainly Mr. Darcy would find at least ONE lady in these pages who might meet his strict requirements, despite Elizabeth’s doubting rant.
It is always a worthwhile effort to check the index of every book you pick up to see if Jane Austen gets a mention. And here we are not disappointed – Austen shows up on many pages, and five of her six novels are cited in the bibliography – all but Persuasion for some odd reason – one would think Anne Elliot’s skills at the pianoforte would have merited a mention?
This image of page 165 quotes Austen about patchwork when she writes to Cassandra on 31 May 1811:“Have you remembered to collect peices for the Patchwork?”
So, let’s stop to think about the varied accomplishments of Austen’s many female characters…anyone want to comment and give a shout out to your own favorite and her accomplishments / or lack thereof? Is anyone up to Mr. Darcy’s standards?
“23 April is a symbolic date in world literature. It is the date on which several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. This date was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone to access books – most beautiful invention for sharing ideas beyond the boundaries of humanity space and time as well as the most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.”
Sophie de Grouchy. Letters on Sympathy: A Critical Engagement with Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
Published in 1798 in French, now here translated.
In case you are in need of some new reading material, the whole of the 2 volumes of the Mueller Report are available for free online (you DON’T need to buy it from Amazon): Notice all the redacted data…. https://www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf
George Rodrigue’s “Absolut Statehood Louisiana” – bidding is already at $1800…
The Modern Library is launching a new trade paperback book series, Modern Library Torchbearers, that will “honor a more inclusive vision of classic books” by “recognizing women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance.” The books, all previously published, will be repackaged, and each will be introduced by a contemporary woman writer. The inaugural list for the series features:
American Indian Stories by Zitkála-Sá, with an introduction by Layli Long Soldier (May 21)
The Heads of Cerberus by Francis Stevens, with an introduction by Naomi Alderman (May 21)
Passing by Nella Larsen, with an introduction by Kaitlyn Greenidge (May 21)
The Awakening by Kate Chopin, with an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado (June 18)
Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, with an introduction by Flynn Berry (June 18)
Villette by Charlotte Brontë, with an introduction by Weike Wang (June 18)
“This exhibition brings back to Strawberry Hill some of the most important masterpieces in Horace Walpole’s famous and unique collection for a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. Horace Walpole’s collection was one of the most important of the 18th century. It was dispersed in a great sale in 1842. For the first time in over 170 years, Strawberry Hill can be seen as Walpole conceived it, with the collection in the interiors as he designed it, shown in their original positions.”
Mark your calendars! The “Jane Austen & The Arts” Conference, scheduled for March 23-25, 2017 at SUNY-Plattsburgh has just announced its speaker line-up – a terrific group! – here they are alphabetically: (and note that our very own Hope Greenberg will be sharing her thoughts on Fashion!)
Dear Readers: Today I am posting Part III on the Heraldic windows at Chawton House Library, this post giving details on the shields in the Great Hall, as well as two more family pedigrees, and a very short course on the meaning of the various colors in the heraldic crests.
And again I thank Edward Hepper, one of the Chawton House Library’s invaluable volunteers, for sharing with us his expertise on heraldry! Please comment if you have any questions or anything to add to any of these three posts.
Various painted shields show the arms of different branches of the family since the 17th century. Some of those above the fireplace include Knights and their wives from the early 20th century. They were probably painted for Montagu Knight in the years just before the 1st World War. [You can see portraits of these named in the previous two posts.]
Edward Knight (jr) & Adela Portal: Thomas Knight (jr) & Catharine Knatchbull
Charles E Knight & Emma Patrickson (?): Lionel C E Knight & Dorothy Deedes
Jane Monk; Thomas (Brodnax) Knight (sr)
Pedigree: Knight Family
The Chawton Manor Succession:
The Meaning of the colors: a brief summary, and please note that there is a wide variation in assigning a meaning to a color, with many experts disagreeing…
Dear Readers: Today join me for Part II on the Heraldic windows at Chawton House Library, this post giving details on the two windows on the Great Staircase. [You can read Part I on the Great Gallery here] – And again I thank Edward Hepper, one of the Chawton House Library’s invaluable volunteers, for sharing with us his expertise on heraldry.
Chawton House Library
Part II: The Great Staircase:
The Landing window
The windows on the staircase landing and that at the foot of the stairs were modified by Sir Edwin Lutyens to display this collection of mid-Tudor heraldry. It probably came from the Manor of Neatham, on the other side of Alton, which came into the Knight family in the mid-18th century. Neatham had been owned by Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu, and the heraldry fits with his prominent Roman Catholic allegiance – he was an Executor of Queen Mary’s will.
Queen Elizabeth I
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
King Henry II of France
Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu [see note below]
Queen Elizabeth I
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
King Henry II of France
Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu
[Note: Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu was a leading courtier, Roman Catholic, supported Queen Mary, attended the official wedding of Mary and Philip in Winchester Cathedral (though note that the DNB entry for Browne says Hampton Court Palace in which she stayed frequently but DNB for Mary and the cathedral’s own records state Winchester Cathedral), and was MP for Petersfield (DNB)]
2. The Window at the foot of the stairs:
King Philip II of Spain (NB the punning arms of Leon, Castille and Grenada)
Edward Knight (jr) & Adela Portal
Queen Mary I
King Philip II of Spain
Edward Knight Jr & Adela Portal
Queen Mary I
Edward Knight is the odd one out and his glass must be at least three hundred years later, perhaps bought or commissioned by Montagu Knight. They include Knight, Austen, Leigh and Portal.
The arms of Queens Mary and Elizabeth are the same as those for English sovereigns from, Henry V to Elizabeth I. In this case, Elizabeth is labelled as such. Mary has to be Mary because of the provenance and context of the other arms shown.
Similarly, Henry used the same arms as nearly all the French Kings but Henry II was the only one who was a Knight of the Garter – and so had the Garter encircling his shield.
The difficulty was to see the reason why the 3rd Earl of Rutland was included as he was not a prominent Catholic, like most of the others. However, the 3rd (or bottom left quarter) in his and the Browne shields are the same, which points to a relationship between Rutland and Browne. Indeed, examination of their family trees points to a common descent from Edmund of Woodstock (son of King Edward II) via John, 1st Baron Tiptoft, and it is the Woodstock and Tiptoft arms that appear in this 3rd quarter. A family tree or pedigree is available to show this connection. Browne, being a relatively ‘new’ man was keen to show his historical and aristocratic credentials and so included as many quarterings as possible of related families (including Browne, FitzAlan, Maltravers, Neville, Monthermer, Woodstock, Tiptoft, Ingoldsthorpe, Bradston, de la Pole and Deburgh). Rutland, being the 3rd Earl, was well established and so did not need so many quarterings (just Manners, Roos, Belvoir, Ross or Especk, FitzBernard, Woodstock and Tiptoft); however his presence in the window added to Browne’s prestige.
Philip II of Spain is included because as Mary’s husband, he was King of England, during her reign. His arms include most of the European territories he ruled: Castille, Leon, Sicily, Aragon, Austria, Burgundy, Brabant, Flanders, Tyrol and Granada.
There is more information available on the heraldry in the rest of the house (stained glass, wood carving, paintings and tilework).
Mr. Hepper also sent along three family trees: here is the first one on the early owners of Chawton House (others to follow in next post)- (no worries, there will be no quizzes at the end…):
Early owners of Chawton House, pre-Knight Family, from 1066 – c1550
Stay tuned for more, and with thanks again to Edward Hepper!
c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont, text and images by Edward Hepper
Dear Readers: Today I am posting in response to a question on Tony Grant’s post about visiting the Emma exhibitionat Chawton House Library a few weeks ago. One of Tony’s pictures at the end of the post was of stained glass windows at the Library, and “Lady L” inquired about them. Tony had not seen anything about the various windows and portraits, but he confessed to be solely focused on Emma to really pay close attention. I have since discovered that all the heraldic windows are indeed explained at CHL, and that one of the Library’s many terrific volunteers has researched the history and meaning of all of them. Edward Hepper has graciously sent me his write-ups along with pictures and with his and CHL Executive Director Gillian Dow’s permission, I share this with all of you. Mr. Hepper is a long-term member of the British Heraldy Society, http://www.theheraldrysociety.com/home.htm and is quite knowledgeable on the family coats-of-arms that grace the windows of CHL – you will see some connections to Jane Austen and her family…but there is much other British history in these windows as well!
Chawton House Library
We will start today in the Great Gallery:
These three windows were commissioned by Montagu Knight from the London firm Powell, of Whitefriars. They were installed between 1910 and 1913. The first window, furthest from the Great Staircase, shows the families of the freeholders from the 11th century over the next five hundred years. They were all descendants from the de Ports, to whom William the Conqueror granted the estate, although sometimes the lack of a male heir meant that Chawton passed through the female line with a change of name and coat of arms. The last of this family was Leonard West, by whom Chawton was sold to the Arundels.
St John, successors to the DePorts
West (NB the punning ‘W’)
Within a few years, they sold to Nicholas Knight, whose son John, started to build the present house in 1583. The Knight family have held the freehold ever since – over four hundred years, although it has several times passed through the female line to other branches of the family which have had to adopt the name and arms of Knight (usually slightly differenced).
The succeeding Knights are shown in the next two windows and the dates next to their names indicate the year in which each of them succeeded to the freehold.
John Knight & Mary Neale (1583)
Stephen & Richard Knight (1620, 1637)
Sir Richard Knight & Priscilla Reynolds (1641)
Richard & Christopher (Martin) Knight (NB punning martins) (1679, 1687)
Elizabeth (Martin) Knight & William Woodward Knight (1702)
Elizabeth (Martin) Knight & Bulstrode Peachey Knight (1702) [Elizabeth Martin Knight had two husbands: William Woodward and Bulstrode Peachey (you cannot make up a name like that…)]
Here are their portraits, to put a face to a name:
Richard Martin Knight
Sir Richard Knight – Richard (Martin) Knight
Christopher Martin Knight
Christopher (Martin) Knight – William Woodward
Elizabeth Martin Knight
Elizabeth (Martin) Knight – Bulstrode Peachey
The third window brings us to Jane Austen territory:
Thomas (Brodnax) Knight & Jane Monk (1637)
Thomas Knight (jr) & Elizabeth Knatchbull (1781)
Edward (Austen) Knight & Elizabeth Bridges (1794)
Edward Knight (jr) & Mary Dorothea Knatchbull (1st wife) (1852)
Edward Knight (jr) & Adela Portal (2nd wife) (1852)
Montagu Knight & Florence Hardy (1879)
And their portraits:
Thomas Brodnax Knight
Thomas (Brodnax) Knight – Jane Monk, wife of Thomas Knight (sr)
Thomas B Knight Jr
Edward Austen Knight
Thomas (Brodnax) Knight (jr) – Edward (Austen) Knight (Jane Austen’s brother)
Edward Austen Knight Jr
Edward Knight (jr) – Montagu Knight
Hearty thanks to Edward Hepper for allowing me to post on this – stay tuned for more information on the other windows … And I will be conversing with Ron Dunning to make sense of all these names and their connections to Austen – see his Jane Austen Genealogy for starters…
c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont; text and photos c Edward Hepper
Gentle Readers: I welcome today one of our JASNA-Vermont members, Heather Brothers, as she muses on a certain passage in “Persuasion” that she “discovered” during a recent re-listen. We’ve had a bit of an email discussion over this, so now want to it share with you and solicit your thoughts too.
The Musgrove’s Parlour
Several years ago I came upon the audio version of Persuasion as read by Juliet Stevenson. The manner of her reading infused more meaning into Persuasion than I ever picked up reading it myself. And through listening to this several times, I have noticed some fascinating passages that I would otherwise have overlooked. Here is one and I am happy to share others:
Anne has arrived at Uppercross and is going to visit the Musgroves with Mary…
To the Great House accordingly they went, to sit the full half hour in the old-fashioned square parlour, with a small carpet and shining floor, to which the present daughters of the house were gradually giving the proper air of confusion by a grand piano forte and a harp, flower-stands and little tables placed in every direction. Oh! Could the originals of the portraits against the wainscot, could the gentleman in brown velvet and the ladies in blue satin have seen what was going on, have been conscious of such an overthrow of all order and neatness! The portraits themselves seemed to be staring in astonishment.
[Persuasion, Vol. I, Ch. 5]
I have come to understand that Persuasion is written on the cusp of a new time period. Just before this passage above, Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove are described as representing the old ways and the two Miss Musgroves as the new ways. I get the impression that Jane Austen is using even the parlor in the Musgrove house as showing this change – that the minutia of interior design itself represents a change from the old ways to the new ways.
What was happening in interior design at this time? What architectural changes were taking place? I understand from fashion that ionic columns and flowing lines were the mode, but simplicity doesn’t seem to be the case with the Musgrove girls’ additions to the parlor. When I read this piece to my husband, who is an architect, he immediately got the impression that the girls were over-decorating; that they were building up the style to improve and impress.
This leads me to think that the astonishing overthrow of all order and neatness is both referring to the style of the room but also to the girls themselves. What would the portraits have thought of Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove in their endless pursuit of happiness, fun and excitement?
Seen in an earnest light, Henrietta and Louisa’s behavior is seriously flawed. Henrietta almost loses a good, stable life with a man she really likes and Louisa almost kills herself through taking their love-struck silliness to too high of a level. Did it all start in the parlor? Would the piano forte have been sufficient, but the additional harp, flower-stands and little tables represent the overthrow of moderation? Is Jane Austen’s commentary on the parlor a harbinger of what’s to come for these girls or for society?
If anyone can recommend books on this subject – please let me know!
This portrait may serve as an example of what Jane Austen is referring to, hanging on the Musgrove parlor walls “against the wainscot,” where all is “order and neatness.”
Austen packs into this one rather obscure sentence much about what is going on in the Musgrove household and the wider world! Thoughts anyone?
Heather Brothers is one of our “Team of Janeites” in Vermont who helps with Hospitality and Boutique sales at our quarterly meetings. She is a young mother of two adorable girls, and also the author of a Regency-era novel, The Introduction of a Gentleman (2013) – it is a terrific read – you can find it on Amazon (and interesting to note that the cover depicts a young lady sitting at a pianoforte!)
Heather has also initiated at our meetings “The Awesome Austen Moment” – where we ask someone to read aloud a short passage from any of the Works, just to remind us all exactly what Austen could convey in any given sentence, this Persuasion piece a perfect example.
You can read more about Heather and her book here:
This week, a portrait of the Prince Regent, a.k.a. Prinnie and later George IV, is up for sale at Skinner. Here is the chance you’ve been waiting for – to have his mighty visage staring down at you from your library walls! Whatever would Jane Austen say? – she was not, as we know, a big fan of the Prince. [for more information on Austen’s 1815 visit to Carlton House and the Prince Regent’s Librarian, click here.]
Prince of Wales
British School, 18th/19th Century ~ George IV as The Prince of Wales
British School, 18th/19th Century – George IV as The Prince of Wales
Unsigned, with labels including one from The Closson Art Galleries, Cincinnati, on the stretcher.
Oil on canvas, 28 1/4 x 23 3/4 in. (71.5 x 60.5 cm), framed.
Condition: Lined, retouch, fine craquelure, surface accretions.
N.B. The portrait is somewhat similar in feel to that painted by John Russell, RA, in 1789, now in the collection of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, which may have been the inspiration for this copy.
Stretcher incised “W.MORRILL/LINER” u.c. bar. Also with a label from Art Conservation & Services, San Francisco, California, on the stretcher. Other period labels on the stretcher are unattributed and variously inscribed with numbers. One more promising label is inscribed “S.Buckly & Co/8-5-21”
See the full Auction catalogue for a stunning collection of fine silver, snuff boxes, paintings, porcelain, furnishings, and other decorative arts.
And here is the Prince later as George IV and what the caricaturists and his own profligate ways made of him:
A Voluptuary under the horrors of Digestion (1792)
by James Gillray [Wikipedia]