A short time ago at Sothebys
in London, one of the best-known images in British cultural history - the definitive portrait of Jane Austen was sold for £164,500 (est. £150,000-200,000). The watercolour, by James Andrews, an engraving of which will appear on the Bank of Englands new £10 note from 2017 (the authors bicentenary) was purchased over the telephone on behalf of an anonymous private collector. Rarely seen in public, the portrait had been offered for sale directly from the Austen family. It was commissioned in 1869 by Jane Austens nephew, Rev. James Edward Austen-Leigh to illustrate his Memoir of Jane Austen, the hugely influential first full-length biography which was crucial in transforming her from a novelist into a national figure.
Best-selling author Joanna Trollope, whose Sense & Sensibility is a reworking of Austens famous novel commented: This portrait was commissioned half a century after Jane Austen's death, so it can hardly be claimed as a life likeness. All the same, it is all we have, and it has a lack of pretension that suits our first properly acclaimed great woman novelist. I think Jane Austen herself would have enjoyed being represented on a national banknote in this mildly enigmatic way. And she would have been vastly entertained by this auction and all the publicity surrounding it - thrilled, but also unable to resist a tease
Earlier in todays sale, a previously completely unknown album of photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron sold for £242,500 establishing a new auction record for an album of photographs by the artist. It is one of only 11 known albums compiled by Cameron who is considered the leading female pioneer of 19th century photography. Alongside carefully chosen portraits of her friends and celebrities of the Victorian era, the album contains two prints which are previously unrecorded and possibly unique.