Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Portrait of Tom LeFroy for Sale!

If you don't know who Tom LeFroy was, then don't pay attention to the recent film Becoming Jane, which manufactured a huge romance between our beloved Jane Austen and Tom. It is true that Jane and Tom enjoyed a mild fliration over a couple of weeks, but there is really no evidence that it was anything serious or that Tom proposed.

Anyway, a miniature portrait of Mr. LeFroy is for sale:

This week, a rare miniature portrait of the man who some believe may have provided the inspiration for him is going on sale.

One of only two paintings known to exist of Thomas Langlois Lefroy, a 20-year-old law student who met Jane Austen while he was visiting his aunt and uncle in Hampshire, it shows an attractive and sensitive-looking young man dressed in a blue velvet jacket and white cravat. An original watercolour by George Engleheart, it was painted in 1798and is going on sale for £50,000.
[. . .]
The watercolour, which is painted on ivory and measures just 3 inches by 1 ¼ inches, is on display at the Grosvenor House Art and Antiques Fair, at Park Lane in London, from Thursday. It is by Engleheart, the great English miniaturist, and the only one which is dated and signed with the artist's distinctive cursive E. The other portrait remains in the hands of Lefroy's descendants.

Wasn't he a handsome young man?

I think it is utterly absurd to say that Jane Austen could only have "imagined" the character of Mr. Darcy if she had indulged in her own romance. That sells her intellect short and does her such disservice. She was a brilliant woman, capable of coming up with ideas without experiencing them herself.

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