A major display of personal items, original manuscripts and works of art to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Brontė, author of Jane Eyre, opened at the National Portrait Gallery
today, Monday 22 February.
Celebrating Charlotte Brontė 1816-1855, (22 February - 14 August 2016) explores the authors life, creative development and professional success. It includes portraits from the Gallerys Collection and 26 items from the Brontė Parsonage Museum, birthplace and home of Charlotte and her family. It is also one of the museums largest ever loans, some of which have never previously been seen.
Among the treasures are paintings and drawings by Charlotte, letters and journals, the famous little books created by the Brontė sisters as children including the first book Charlotte ever made and a pair of cloth ankle boots worn by Charlotte. Other items include first editions of Jane Eyre, her first published novel, which enjoyed immediate and enduring popularity as well as Elizabeth Gaskells biography, The Life of Charlotte Brontė.
Central to the display is the presentation of new research into the only surviving painted portraits of Charlotte with her two sisters, Emily and Anne, by their brother Branwell, in the Gallerys Collection. This explores the intriguing story of its discovery folded on top of a wardrobe, subsequent acquisition by the Gallery and its restoration.
The display also includes works from the Gallerys Collection including the chalk drawings of Charlotte and her friend and first biographer Elizabeth Gaskell by George Richmond, alongside portraits of Charlotte Brontės heroes and associates such as the Duke of Wellington, poet Lord Byron and novelist William Thackeray.
Celebrating Charlotte Brontė 1816-1855 is curated by the National Portrait Gallerys Associate Curator Rosie Broadley, assisted by Lucy Wood, Assistant Curator.
Lucy Wood, Assistant Curator, says: This is a rare opportunity to view one of our most iconic portraits, which is on permanent display in our 19th Century galleries, alongside exquisite personal treasures from the Brontė Parsonage Museum. The display illuminates Charlotte Brontės life and literary career and celebrates her remarkable contribution to British literature. Anybody interested in the Brontės will find this an unmissable experience.
Many of the loans from the Parsonage Museum as well as works from the National Portrait Gallery Collection will be exhibited in the United States for the first time at the Morgan Library in New York in autumn 2016.