The Pemberley Post, No. 2 (Jan 8-14, 2019) ~ Jane Austen and More!

My round-up of the past week – so much of interest, from Dolley Madison to Vermont’s State House to Mike Myers!

Celebrating Rembrandt: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/the-year-of-rembrandt?&utm_campaign=uitnodiging&utm_medium=email&utm_source=20190107_Cultuurtoerist_ENG_jan

Jane Austen’s moving poem on the death of her friend Madam [Anne] Lefroy: https://interestingliterature.com/2019/01/07/to-the-memory-of-mrs-lefroy-who-died-decr-16-my-birthday-a-poem-by-jane-austen/

A Jane Austen £10 note on ebay – for £49! (others available also at various prices)

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/LUCKY-10-NOTE-JANE-AUSTEN-TEN-POUND-BIRTHDAY-ANNIVERSARY-31-08-61-AUGUST-1961/323639434583?hash=item4b5a69dd57:g:eiwAAOSwGW9apceW:rk:11:pf:0

“How Dolley Madison Conquered the Nation’s Capital (with great images): https://www.montpelier.org/learn/dolley-madison-becoming-americas-first-lady

Mrs. Madison’s drawing room [image: Montpelier]

Another First Lady – Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming is the highest selling print book of 2018, and it was just released in mid-November! https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/78941-becoming-is-top-selling-title-in-2018.html

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The Broom Brigade (there were several in Vermont – who knew??): https://www.revolvy.com/page/Broom-brigade%20/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broom_brigade

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More Vermont: the Ceres statue stop the State House in Montpelier:

Ceres statue [image: ‘Vermont Woman’]

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London’s Gentlemen’s Clubs: https://londonist.com/london/drink/the-curious-world-of-london-s-gentlemen-s-clubs

Image: Image: The Gaming House, A Rake’s Progress by William Hogarth. An early depiction of White’s which was at this time a notorious gambling den [Londonist]

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A Guardian review of one of 2018’s best books – also has the hero immersed in Emma (how many real men are out there immersed in Emma I wonder…): https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/08/normal-people-sally-rooney-novel-literary-phenomenon-of-decade

A rare Monet to be auctioned for the first time! (with an estimate of $25-$35 million) – https://www.barnebys.com/blog/art/a-rare-claude-monet-landscape-goes-to-auction/17395/

A terrific book at Open Access on Victorian newspapers and periodicals: A Fleet Street in Every Town: The Provincial Press in England, 1855-1900, by Andrew Hobbs – https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/835 [the pdf is a free download, all 470 pages!] – Hobbs has also set up a twitter account where he will post diary excerpts daily: https://twitter.com/HewitsonDiaries

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Birds of America – one of the world’s rarest books by the 19thc American artist and ornithologist John James Audubon has gone on display at Liverpool Central Library, with a “Mission Impossible”-like scenario to get it there! https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-england-merseyside-46820378/rare-audubon-bird-book-displayed-at-liverpool-library

The Frankenstein exhibit at the Morgan Library ends January 27, 2019: https://www.themorgan.org/exhibitions/frankenstein

Also at the Morgan online: two of Humphry Repton’s redbooks are available for your viewing pleasure: https://www.themorgan.org/collection/Humphry-Reptons-Red-Books

Repton Redbook [image: Morgan]

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Who knew? During a pre-Golden Globes auction, Mike Myers matched a £40,000 bid to split the prize of staying at Heckfield Place in Hampshire to get the ‘Jane Austen’ experience.’ See https://www.heckfieldplace.com/ – the story is here: https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/8174350/man-utd-julia-roberts-qatar-world-cup-tickets/

January 13, 2019 7pm on PBS “I Hate Jane Austen,” with British columnist Giles Coren: http://www.gpb.org/blogs/mygpb/2019/01/11/whats-new-next-week-january-11-2019 [I’ve taped this but haven’t watched it yet – if you have, tell me what you think…]

The all-over-the-press account of the Austen family photos found in an album on ebay: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6580879/Extraordinary-photos-Jane-Austens-family-discovered.html

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Edward Hicks, Peaceable Kingdon [image: Wikipedia]

Edward Hicks’ “Peaceable Kingdom” paintings at Christie’s: https://www.christies.com/features/Edward-Hicks-The-Peaceable-Kingdom-9632-3.aspx?sc_lang=en&cid=EM_EMLcontent04144A60D_1&cid=DM265864&bid=162201602

A collection of the wacky and weird, long before P. T. Barnum – Kirby’s Eccentric Museum, with thanks to The Gentle Author at “Spitalfields Life” (excellent images – one weirder than the next…): http://spitalfieldslife.com/2019/01/12/kirbys-eccentric-museum/

The beginnings of Bibliotourism: put your Library on here! https://libraryplanet.net/

A Slave Bible [heavily edited] on view at the Museum of the Bible: https://museumofthebible.org/exhibits/slave-bible

Slave Bible – Smithsonian

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And again from “Spitalfields Life” – Christopher Wren’s model of St. Paul’s Cathedral – awesome pictures! I had no idea this was there! http://spitalfieldslife.com/2019/01/13/inside-the-model-of-st-pauls-x/

Literary penguins! (Guess which Austen Hero gets his own penguin…): https://maryland.ourcommunitynow.com/baltimore/maryland-zoo-names-baby-penguins-after-literary-characters/

Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies 14.2 (Fall 2018) is now online: http://www.ncgsjournal.com/issue142/issue142.htm

I have long collected Robert Sabuda’s delightful pop-up books [ http://robertsabuda.com/ ]– but here’s a new entry into the Pop-Up world – by Lego! https://shop.lego.com/en-US/product/Pop-Up-Book-21315

Happy Reading!

2019, Jane Austen in Vermont

The Pemberley Post, No. 1 (Jan 7, 2019) ~ Jane Austen and More

When I first started this blog on March 31, 2008, I would post a weekly round-up of Jane Austen findings on the web. After a few years, Life got in the way of working on that weekly list, though I have continued to find things every day that I sometimes post on facebook or twitter, but now rarely even do that – there’s just SO MUCH information out there, and you all likely see and know more than I do on any given day. But I’ve decided to try my hand at sharing some weekly links – some about Jane Austen, others about books and reading, and a little bit of history thrown in – a mishmash really of things that interest me – and in hopes they interest you too. I am calling this round-up “The Pemberley Post,” the name of our no-longer-published JASNA-Vermont newsletter – just because I like the name (and “Highbury Gossips,” the best possible name ever is the title of JASNA-Montreal’s newsletter…)

I cannot promise I’ll do this every week, but shall make an effort, though some might be very short! – here is the first, for the week of January 1-7, 2019 – and as you can see, I am all over the map with information!

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The Broadview Press in December 2018 released their online “Jane Austen in Context.” For $9.95 you can access this research tool for its critical articles, visual materials, and interactive timelines and maps – and more is being added each week. Click here for more info: https://broadviewpress.com/product/broadview-online-jane-austen-in-context/?ph=36eb83021c2f2f534593bea0#tab-description

Laurel Ann at Austenprose – her favorite books from 2018: https://austenprose.com/2019/01/01/my-favorite-books-of-2018-by-a-partial-prejudiced-and-ignorant-jane-austen-fan/

What P&P teaches readers: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/12/what-jane-austens-pride-prejudice-teaches-readers/578872/

Classics now out of copyrighthttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/29/books/copyright-extension-literature-public-domain.html

And also this: https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/public-domain-day-2019-what-books-can-you-now-read-for-free.html/

10 novels to beat the January blues (Mansfield Park? – who knew??): https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/best-books-to-read-new-year-novels-fiction-jane-austen-pg-wodehouse-literature-a8709196.html

5 best novels starring Jane Austen: https://www.vulture.com/article/five-essential-novels-with-jane-austen-as-a-premise.html

Favorite Romance novels of 2018 by Cailey Hall at LARB (many are YA novels, very often the best reads): http://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/reviews/favorite-romance-novels-2018/

A Jane Austen Literary tour of England this summer 2019 (space is limited): https://betweennapsontheporch.net/jane-austen-fans-would-you-enjoy-a-literary-tour-of-southern-england/

Reviewing “Clueless, The Musical”https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/11/theater/clueless-the-musical-review.html

Maria Sibylla Merian -JSTOR

The 17th-Century should-not-be-forgotten insect artist and early feminist, Maria Sibylla Merian: https://daily.jstor.org/the-metamorphosis-of-a-17th-century-insect-artist/

The ‘Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’ – free podcasts each week: https://soundcloud.com/odnb – listen to this 15 minute piece on Jane Seymour (Henry VIII wife #3 – she at least didn’t lose her head…) – or this one on Elizabeth Parsons, the Cock Lane Ghost: https://soundcloud.com/odnb/elizabeth-parsons-the-cock-lane-ghost-17491807-imposter

Or this one at nearly 2 hours (and from 4 years ago), Jane Austen vs. Emily Bronte (with John Mullan and Kate Mosse): https://soundcloud.com/intelligence2/jane-austen-vs-emily-bronte

The literary photographs of Lotte Jacobi exhibit at the University of New Hampshire to open this January – think J. D. Salinger: https://www.finebooksmagazine.com/issue/1701/lotte-jacobi-1.phtml

Check your bookshelves for any old Mary Poppins: https://www.finebooksmagazine.com/fine_books_blog/2018/12/the-return-of-mary-poppins.phtml

Susannah Fullerton’s (president of JASA) list of favorites read in 2018: https://susannahfullerton.com.au/my-2018-favourites/

Ellen Moody an Jane Austen’s friendship with Anne Sharpe (where she fleshes out and corrects the chapter on Austen and Sharp(e) in The Secret Sisterhood): https://reveriesunderthesignofausten.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/jane-austen-anne-sharp-she-is-an-excellent-kind-friend/

 

Gainsborough – NPG

Your last chance to see the “Gainsborough Family Album” exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery (London) which closes February 3, 2019 (or buy the catalogue for £29.95): https://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/gainsborough/exhibition/

A calligraphy exhibit at the Getty (through April 7, 2019) http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/artful_words/

How the Georgians stored their ice (no mention of martinis): https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/london-archaeologists-unearth-subterranean-georgian-ice-store-180971146/

Set up your 2019 reading list with the help of the Modern Mrs. Darcy: https://modernmrsdarcy.com/reading-challenge-2019/

London’s Feminist Library has been saved from closing: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/03/feminist-library-saved-from-closure-as-supporters-raise-35000

Read:

– everything you ever wanted to know about Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding gown in The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson: http://www.jennifer-robson.com/writing/the-gown/

Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote, by Kirsten Gillibrand, illustrated by Maira Kalman: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-women-who-won-the-right-to-vote

Julie Klassen has a new book out in her Ivy Hill series, The Bride of Ivy Green: https://bakerbookhouse.com/products/the-bride-of-ivy-green-9780764218170

Publishers Weekly’s list of the favorite 2018 reads of booksellers…: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/78903-booksellers-favorite-titles-of-2018.html

Lots of reading lists – what’s on your TBR pile?

c2019, Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen & The Arts Conference ~ March 23-25, 2017 at SUNY-Plattsburgh

John Broadwood & Sons square piano (1797), NY-MMA - 1982.76

John Broadwood & Sons square piano (1797), NY-MMA

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!)

  • Elaine Bander (Dawson College, CA), “Austen’s ‘Artless’ Heroines: Catherine and Fanny”
  • Barbara Benedict (Trinity College, CT), “‘What Oft was Thought’: Wit, Conversation, Poetry and Pope in Jane Austen’s Works”
  • Natasha Duquette (Tyndale University College, CA), “‘A Very Pretty Amber Cross’: Material Sources of Austenian Aesthetics”
  • Tim Erwin (UNLV), “The Comic Visions of Emma Woodhouse”
  • Marilyn Francus (West Virginia University), “Jane Austen, Marginalia, and Book Culture”
  • Marcie Frank (Cornell), “Theater and Narrative Form in Austen’s Mansfield Park”
  • Hope Greenberg (University of Vermont), “Jane Austen and the Art of Fashion”
  • Jocelyn Harris (University of Otago, NZ), “What Jane Saw–in Henrietta Street”
  • John Havard (Binghamton University), “Jane Austen and Woody Allen”
  • Jacqueline George (SUNY New Paltz), “Motion Sickness: The Fate of Reading in ‘Modern’ Sanditon”
  • Nancy E. Johnson (SUNY New Paltz), “Jane Austen and the Art of Law”
  • John Lefell (SUNY Cortland), “The Art of Speculation in Austen’s Sanditon”
  • Ellen Moody (George Mason University), “Ekphrastic Patterns in Jane Austen”
  • Tonay J. Moutray (Russell Sage Colleges, NY), “Religious Views: Austen’s Picturesque and Sublime Abbeys”
  • Douglas Murray (Belmont University, TN), “Jane Austen Goes to the Opera”
  • Cheryl Nixon (University of Massachusetts), “Jane Austen and Family Law”
  • John O’Neill (Hamilton College), “Adaptation, Appropriation, and Intertextuality in Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship”
  • Deborah C. Payne (American University), “Jane Austen and the Theatre? Perhaps Not So Much”
  • Peter Sabor (McGill University), Keynote Address: “Portrait Miniatures and Misrepresentation in Austen’s Novels”
  • Juliette Wells (Goucher College, MD), “‘A Likeness Pleases Everyone’: Portraiture, Ekphrasis, and the Accomplished Woman in Emma”
  • Cheryl Wilson (University of Baltimore), “Jane Austen and Dance”

More info here: https://janeaustenandthearts.com/

c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont

Musing on a Passage in Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” ~ Guest Post by Heather Brothers

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.

Persuasion-Naxos-Stevenson

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-MrsMusgrove-Kellynch

Anne Elliot and Mrs Musgrove: http://www.kellynch.com/Anne.php

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]

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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!

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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.”

devis2alg

1742-1743 the John Bacon family, by Arthur Devis
(Yale Center for British Art – New Haven, CT)
[Source: http://www.gogmsite.net/reign-of-louis-xv/1742-1743-john-bacon-family.html]

Austen packs into this one rather obscure sentence much about what is going on in the Musgrove household and the wider world! Thoughts anyone?

cover-IntroGent-BrothersHeather 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:

Miss Meen hits “Jane Austen’s Regency World”

JASNA-Vermont’s Kelly McDonald has an article in the new issue of “Jane Austen’s Regency World”!

Two Teens in the Time of Austen

Just thrilled to bits to see the release of the July/August issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine: my article on Margaret Meen is included:

Jane Austen Regency World_8-14

Margaret Meen – believed by some to have been governess to the four Smith sisters of Erle Stoke Park – AKA, Lady Northampton, Mrs Chute, Mrs Smith and Miss Smith – was definitely a painter (on vellum and paper) of botanicals, and a teacher. Including, as the JARW line suggests: to the Royal family of Queen Charlotte and her girls. I truly hope that I’ve uncovered a bit of “life” for this somewhat undiscovered artist — and invite you to seek out a copy of the full-color publication that promises to deliver “EVERYTHING that is happening in the world of Jane Austen“, including this tidbit of Smith & Gosling history.

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Your Jane Austen Library: Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony

Another book to be added to your wish list, due out early December!

ja-and-arts

Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony
Edited by Natasha Duquette and Elisabeth Lenckos.
Lehigh U P / Rowman & Littlefield, 2013

What makes this book so special to JASNA-Vermont is that one of the chapters is by our founding member Kelly McDonald! – see chapter 2 in the table of contents below, and her blog post on it here. Congratulations Kelly!

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About the book, from the Rowman & Littlefield website:

Contributions by Jessica Brown; Diane N. Capitani; Christine Colón; Alice Davenport; Deborah Kennedy; Kathryn L. Libin; Kelly McDonald; Belisa Monteiro; Jeffrey Nigro; J. Russell Perkin; Erin J. Smith; Vivasvan Soni; Melora G. Vandersluis and Frederick A. Duquette.

The essays collected in Jane Austen and the Arts; Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony examine Austen’s understanding of the arts, her aesthetic philosophy, and her role as artist. Together, they explore Austen’s connections with Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Madame de Staël, Joanna Baillie, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck, and other writers engaged in debates on the sensuous experience and the intellectual judgment of art. Our contributors look at Austen’s engagement with diverse art forms, painting, ballet, drama, poetry, and music, investigating our topic within historically grounded and theoretically nuanced essays. They represent Austen as a writer-thinker reflecting on the nature and practice of artistic creation and considering the social, moral, psychological, and theological functions of art in her fiction. We suggest that Austen knew, modified, and transformed the dominant aesthetic discourses of her era, at times ironically, to her own artistic ends. As a result, a new, and compelling image of Austen emerges, a “portrait of a lady artist” confidently promoting her own distinctly post-enlightenment aesthetic system.

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Table of Contents:

Preface: Jane Austen’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment by Vivasvan Soni
Introduction by Natasha Duquette and Elisabeth Lenckos

I.  The Fine Arts in Austen’s World: Music, Dance, and Portraiture

Ch 1. “Daily Practice, Musical Accomplishment, and the Example of Jane Austen”  – Kathryn Libin
Ch 2.”A ‘Reputation for Accomplishment’: Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse as Artistic Performers” –  Kelly McDonald
Ch 3. “Miss Bingley’s Walk: The Aesthetics of Movement in Pride and Prejudice” – Erin Smith
Ch 4. “The Sister Artist: Cassandra Austen’s Portraits of Jane Austen in Art-Historical Context” – Jeffrey Nigro

II. Austen and Romanticism: Female Genius, Gothicism, and Sublimity

Ch 5 – “Portrait of a Lady (Artist): Jane Austen’s Anne Elliot, Madame de Staël’s Corrine, and the Woman of Genius Novel” – Elisabeth Lenckos
Ch 6 – “Jane Austen’s Comic Heroines and the Controversial Pleasures of Wit” – Belisa Monteiro
Ch 7 – “An Adaptable Aesthetic: Eighteenth-Century Landscapes, Ann Radcliffe, and Jane Austen” – Alice Davenport
Ch 8. “Exploring the Transformative Power of Literature: Joanna Baillie, Jane Austen and the Aesthetics of Moral Reform” – Christine Colón
Ch 9. “Jane Austen’s Influence on Stephenie Meyer” – Deborah Kennedy

III. Austen in Political, Social, and Theological Context

Ch 10. “Aesthetics, Politics, and the Interpretation of Mansfield Park” – Russell Perkin
Ch 11. “Reflections on Mirrors: Austen, Rousseau, and Socio-Politics” – Melora Vandersluis
Ch 12. “‘So much novelty and beauty!’: Spacious Reception through an Aesthetic of Restraint in Persuasion” – Jessica Brown
Ch 13. “Augustinian Aesthetics in Jane Austen’s World: God as Artist” – Diane Capitani
Ch 14. “‘Delicacy of Taste’ Redeemed: The Aesthetic Judgments of Austen’s Clergymen Heroes” – Fred and Natasha Duquette

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Due out in December, you can pre-order the book here – the ebook will be available this month for a penny less!

978-1-61146-137-4 • Hardback -December 2013 • $80.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-61146-138-1 • eBook – November 2013 • $79.99 • (£49.95)

You can also pre-order it here for a little less at Amazon.

[Text and image from the Rowman website]

C2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

“What Jane Saw” ~ Janine Barchas’s Tour of the 1813 Joshua Reynolds Exhibition …

…has launched today! – visit the website What Jane Saw and you can follow Jane Austen as she tours the exhibit!

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The perfect time-travel adventure – it is May 24, 1813 –  what do you see?…

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From the website: [ http://www.whatjanesaw.org/index.php ]

On 24 May 1813, Jane Austen visited an important and  much-talked-about art exhibit at the British Institution in Pall Mall, London. The show  was a retrospective of the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), England’s  celebrated portrait painter.

No visual record of this show is known to have survived, although it  attracted hundreds of daily visitors during its much-publicized three-month run.  However, many details of the exhibit can be reconstructed from the original 1813  “Catalogue of Pictures,” a one-shilling pamphlet purchased by visitors as a guide  through the three large rooms where hung 141 paintings by Reynolds. Armed with  surviving copies of this pamphlet, narrative accounts in nineteenth-century newspapers  and books, and precise architectural measurements of the British Institution’s exhibit  space, this website reconstructs the Reynolds show as Jane Austen (as well as any Jane  Doe) saw it.

I. Why reconstruct this museum exhibit from 1813?

In truth, even if Jane Austen had not attended this public  exhibit, it would still be well worth reconstructing. The British Institution’s show  was a star-studded “first” of great magnitude for the art community and a turning point  in the history of modern exhibit practices. The 1813 show amounted to the first  commemorative exhibition devoted to a single artist ever staged by an institution.  Although Reynolds, who had died a mere twenty-one years earlier, did not yet qualify as  an Old Master, he was already hailed as the founder of the British School and  celebrated as a model for contemporary artists to emulate. The preface to the exhibit  catalogue, written by Richard Payne Knight, treats the work of Sir Joshua Reynolds as a  national treasure in order “to call attention generally to British, in preference to  Foreign Art” (Knight, 9). Knight allows that some of Reynolds’ paintings are better  than others, likening the show to a pedagogical tool for artists and connoisseurs. He  also insists upon the show’s modernity, hailing “the genuine excellence of modern”  artists over the work of their forbearers (Knight, 9). In light of the coverage it  received in the popular press and the London crowds that attended, the British  Institution’s Reynolds exhibit presaged the modern museum blockbuster.

In the age before the photograph, portraits of the rich and famous were  often reproduced by engravers as inexpensive prints. These black and white  reproductions circulated Reynolds’ images of contemporary celebrities widely,  providing pinups to the middling consumer. In this manner, Reynolds’ works  functioned as the modern photographs of Annie Leibovitz do today, making it  hard to say whether he recorded or created celebrity with his art. Wherever  possible, the light-boxes in the e-exhibit therefore show an early engraving  as well as the original canvas. Reynolds’ portraits of “abnormally interesting  people” whom we now term celebrities offer concrete examples of just how  someone like Austen, who did not personally circulate among the social elite,  was nonetheless immersed in England’s vibrant celebrity culture (Roach,  1).

More questions are answered under the About WJS page:

  • Is there a connection between this exhibit and Jane Austen’s fiction?
  • Who, other than the Austens, attended this 1813 exhibit?
  • How did visitors in 1813 experience the British Institution?
  • Did the Catalogue function as a museum guide in 1813?
  • How historically accurate is this website?
  • Room for interpretation and improvement
  • Works Cited / Site Credits

It is a rainy weekend here in Vermont – what better way to spend a few hours but at such an exhibition as this!

Further reading:

reynolds - self-portrait detail - britannica

Sir Joshua Reynolds

barchas-janine

Janine Barchas is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is the author of  Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity (Johns Hopkins University Press, August 2012).  Her  first book, Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel (Cambridge UP, 2003), won the SHARP book prize for best work in the field of book history.  Her newest project is the website What Jane Saw (www.whatjanesaw.org).

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c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont