Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012 9:22 am by Cristina in , , , , , ,    3 comments
Another so-called Emily Brontë portrait is going under the hammer on February 23rd. According to the Yorkshire Post,
AN oil painting believed to be of author Emily Bronte will be the latest item relating to one of the literary sisters to go under the hammer.
The piece is being sold by Northamptonshire firm JP Humbert Auctioneers after the sale of another painting of the reclusive writer for £23,836 in December. [...]
The hitherto unseen painting of Emily Brontë measures 33cm by 24cm and depicts a pensive-looking Victorian woman, auctioneer Jonathan Humbert said.
Annotated Emily Jane Brontë, it has more unclear writing, possibly an artist’s name or title, he said.
The painting was handed to the auctioneers by a private owner after seeing publicity around the previous portrait, and is expected to fetch at least £3,000.
“I am amazed that this second painting has turned up on our doorstep,” Mr Humbert said.
“One unknown portrait of Emily Brontë is luck enough but two in two months is quite remarkable.
“This painting is definitely mid-19th century and has been attributed to Miss Brontë by the artist at the time of painting.”
The portrait is set to go on sale, unreserved, on February 23 at JP Humbert’s sale room in Towcester, Northants, with a provisional estimate of £3,000-4,000. (Picture source)
The Guardian adds,
For the second time in two months, a previously unknown portrait captioned "Emily Brontë" is to be auctioned, showing the Wuthering Heights author as a winsome but pensive young woman.
Painted in oils and with the subject gazing directly at the artist with clear brown eyes, the picture is less formal and possibly more flattering than the smaller, bonneted study that sold in December for £23,836, exceeding the reserve price of £10,000-£15,000.
Measuring 33 by 24cms (13 by 9.5ins), the painting has been reliably sourced to the mid-19th century and has a note of the subject probably made by the artist around the time of painting. But absolute attribution is unlikely, as has been the case with most supposed Brontë portraits apart from the famous study of the sisters painted in 1835 by their brother, Branwell. [...]
Anything with a Brontë tag appears to sell well, although uncertainty about the authenticity of the latest picture has seen the reserve set at between £3,000 and £4,000. Last month the Haworth Parsonage museum, which has the world's greatest trove of Brontë relics, was outbid by a Paris museum for a miniature magazine made by Charlotte Brontë when she was 14. (Martin Wainwright)
And The Telegraph and Argus reports the Brontë Society's stance:
But an official at the Brontë Society has cast doubt on whether or not the painting is actually of the famous author. [...]
The previously unseen painting depicts a pensive-looking Victorian woman and is annotated Emily Jane Brontë. Ann Dinsdale, collections manager at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth said: “The problem is who would have wanted to paint Emily Brontë, apart from her brother Branwell, who aspired to a career as a portrait artist?”
The auctioneers' press release can be read here. The Times also echoes the news.

The Yorkshire Post also broaches the subject of the fundraising for Haworth church, together with a video.
TOURISTS from all over the world may come to visit it but time is running out for campaigners fighting to save the church where Jane and Emily Brontë lie buried.
Fundraisers at St Michael and All Angels, Haworth, say they just have a handful of days in which to raise the money to guarantee builders can start £1.25 million of vital works to the famed place of worship.
English Heritage has offered £100,000 towards the scheme to repair its badly leaking roof but to secure it fundraisers were told they needed to raise a total of £65,000 in match funding.
And although polite Victorian society, including the Brontës, would no doubt have not approved, these are desperate times.
So well-wishers of the church, agreed to bare almost all in charity calendars to raise thousands of pounds to help the appeal.
By Boxing Day the amount needed was £31,000 but with the calendars selling well, John Huxley, who is spearheading the fundraising, said he thought D-Day - January 20 - was within sight.
“Both men and women of the Worth Valley agreed to take part in calendar shoots entitled Haworth Couldn’t Wear Less - with the male version outselling its female counterpart by a factor of three to one at the moment.
“Overall, we have been overwhelmed by public support though the clock is starting to tick rather urgently.
“We have had donations from as little as £1 to donations of £1,000 and it is all very much appreciated. We have held master classes in cake making, fundraising talks and Haworth Primary School’s gardening club even gave us £500.”
As things stand the fund is still £21,500 shy of its target but Mr Huxley is optimistic the final few days will see his letter box bulging with envelopes stuffed with cash and cheques.
The roof of the church is badly damaged and water leaking through has now damaged the church’s original wall paintings.
Once the roof has been repaired it will be possible to rectify the rest of the damage in a process which is set to take place in phases over several years. Work is also needed to ensure the church meets 21 century standards of worship.
News of its plight prompted celebrated artist Stella Vine to offer to paint a portrait of the Bronte sisters to raise funds for repairs.
Ms Vine, is well-known for portraits of figures ranging from Princess Diana to heroin addict Rachel Whitear
She said she will sell prints of the sisters after being “greatly saddened” to see the church in a “terrible state”.
The new artwork will feature Charlotte, who wrote Jane Eyre, along with Wuthering Heights author Emily and their younger sister Anne, who wrote Agnes Grey. The church has also been targeted by lead thieves three times in the last 18 months. [...]
Mr Huxley said the church had also approached the Bradford Diocese, the Sir George Martin Trust, Ilkley, Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust and the National Churches Trust for help.
“Personally, I had never heard of Stella Vine but we are very, very grateful for her offer and everyone else who has promised help,” he said.
“My main concern at the moment is if we are left with a £15,000 shortfall - that would be a major problem though there is always the possibility that we could apply to English Heritage’s shortfall fund.
“The situation is that we love the fact that this is our church but we also understand it is an iconic feature of Yorkshire tourism and we are looking at making the building last for another 75 years.
“The church treasurer - Averil Kenyon - my partner and myself spend hour upon hour from getting up in the morning to going to sleep at night constantly thinking about how we can reach this total and get on with this vital work.
“And every day brings a fresh cheque or two so I am a lot more optimistic now. We are very pleased with what’s happened and we have all worked very hard to get to this stage and we are going to get through this though it is true that we are nervous with so little time left, that is true - we are nervous. We had a meeting of the Future group on Tuesday and it was very positive.
“The church is open 364 days a year and is very well frequented by tourists including many from Japan and Korea. We also get plenty from Australia and New Zealand and even the Americans are reappearing.”
USA Today asks 'Oscar' not to forget Mia Wasikowska's role as Jane Eyre:
•Mia Wasikowska, Jane Eyre. The Australian-born actress delivers possibly the best portrayal of Charlotte Brontë's heroine. She brings the character to life in a more personal and immediate way, palpably conveying Jane's strength and resolve to surmount her terrible childhood. We believe her capable of powerful, but rigidly contained, passions. She adroitly captures the character's quiet intensity and fierce intelligence. (Claudia Puig)
The Salt Lake Tribune asks film experts to pick three movies they are looking forward to seeing at Sundance.
Omar Moore • Editor, The Popcorn Reel (
"Wuthering Heights" (Spotlight) • "I’m curious to see just how much [director Andrea] Arnold, who’s such a talented and distinctive director, stages Brontë’s classic and reshapes it in her own unique language. I think that her sensitivities and the resolute, uncompromising and spirited women at the center of her films (‘Red Road,’ "Fish Tank’) should inform this new film well." (Sean P. Means)
Mike McCahill from The Telegraph thinks 'the twin Cathies of Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights' have been unjustly left out of the BAFTAs.

Cliqueclack comments on the latest episode of Sherlock, The Hounds of Baskerville:
it goes too far into Brontë-esque Gothic whackadoo for my tastes (Julia Hass)
This Port Jefferson Patch columnist is looking forward to reading The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margo Livesey, which
While clearly inspired by Jane Eyre, Gemma’s story remains her own. (Monica Williams)
Amanda Nelson plays literary matchmaker for The Huffington Post:
Jane Eyre and Rhett Butler
Jane has the morality and goodness that Rhett always praised in Melanie. She also has the sass and ferocity of Scarlett, but without the self-centered cattiness. And we all know how much Jane loves a dark, unconventional man with high social standing.
Living & Thriving writes briefly about Jane EyreLa Petite Feministe Anglaise wonders about Bertha's madness. Books, Belles & Beaux reviews Jude Morgan's Charlotte & Emily (aka The Taste of Sorrow). The Attic shares pictures of Haworth.


  1. The portrait clearly shows a woman with brown eyes. We know Emily had blue-grey eyes. Nuff said.

  2. You are right about the eye colour Mick- and as far as known Emily had predominantly grey, mottled eyes- as depicted in the (contested) 1838 group portrait, although in Branwell's group portrait(NPG) her left eye, especially near the centre, has fragments or mottled deflections of pale brown. The inner rim of eye-colour in the new painting is distinctly pale blue/grey.
    Charlotte's eyes in the same painting reflect little of the blue in J H Thompson's posthumous Charlotte, though the artist knew her well.
    As an artist you will know that sometimes eye-colour may be 'interpreted' according to maker's perception, and even in the case of a live 'oil sketch' may have been pigmented after the sitting.
    Although treated with affection, the 'new' Emily has 2 (of 3) distinctive features elequently described by a contemporary choir boy: 'She (was tall) had droopy eyelids, a compressed mouth and a protruding front tooth.'
    Although any 'irregularity' of her image has been subdued or avoided by the gentle artist, the 'compressed mouth' distinction, carefully depicted both by Branwell and the 1838 artist, is clearly discernable in the new oil-sketch, and are the famous 'droopy eyelids'. Neither distinctions are shared by her siblings. A 'protruding front tooth' would be telling, but it seems only the scallywag Landseer ever dared expose it.
    Latest research on the new Emily oil-sketch suggests it could have been made by the longstanding family friend J H Thompson, who may have referred to Emily's 'live' portrait (notice lower nose structure) when creating the posthumous 'blue eyed' version of Charlotte. I wonder Mick, if you copied the new painting, how she would compare with your other renditions of Emily? Very closely, I suspect.
    Best wishes all, James (Gorin von Grozny)

  3. Re 'Nuff Said'. Mick, just noticed your 'restoration attempt' of Branwell's fragment- you've given Emily Brown eyes...

    ;) James