Brontë Society plaque on Bozar gets a facelift - It’s all too easy to walk past the bronze plaque on ‘Bozar’ commemorating Charlotte and Emily’s stay in Brussels in 1842-43, as it’s placed rather high on ...
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Celebrating Charlotte Brontë 1816-2016Once, many years ago (ie. 2006), we were lucky enough to see George Richmond's portrait of Charlotte Brontë in private. It's such a delicate piece of art that it's usually kept in the proper kind of storage. This year, however, it is the central piece at the celebration of Charlotte Brontë's bicentenary at the National Portrait Gallery in London, so it's a great opportunity to see the portrait face-to-face, so to speak. Our Charlotte is in good company too as by her side are two portraits by George Richmond of two of her friends: Elizabeth Gaskell and Harriet Martineau (now both have a chance to finally patch up their friendship at last).
National Portrait Gallery
22 February - 14 August 2016
Infrared photography shows Branwell Brontë made an underdrawing in a carbon medium in loose, freehand lines.Celebrating Charlotte Brontë (22 February - 14 August 2016) can be found in Room 24 at the National Portrait Gallery. It's a small exhibition which, however, manages to cover Charlotte's life. She's accompanied there by her heroes: the Duke of Wellington, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott. And when it comes to her literary fame, three men are there as well: first and foremost, a touching canvas of an elderly George Smith which we had personally never seen before and which we found strangely moving and tender. W.M. Thackeray is there as well as is a marble bust of Robert Southey. The latter we would have placed among her heroes, but he played no role when it came to her fame. He did the opposite, if anything.
Ultra violet light shows more lead white and flesh paint on the figure of Charlotte, which has been modelled and completed to a greater degree, suggesting that the canvas was never finished, and some areas, including the lower half of the canvas, are unresolved.
Paint sampling has confirmed that the figure of Branwell was sketched in an early stage of the painting, and never completed. It was painted out with a pillar at a similar tiem, by the artist himself. The most likely reason was that he considered the four figure composition too cramped. This disproves early speculation that Charlotte had obscured the figure of her brother at a later date.