Executed by Ozias Humphry R.A in 1788.

A  portrait, its provenance and history...

Executed by Ozias Humphry R.A in 1788.

A  portrait, its provenance and history...

The Rice Portrait of 





R.W. Chapman’s Error

R.W Chapman’s dismissal of the portrait was based solely upon his rough dating of the costume. The above three sentences are all he had to say about it in his book (the original published paragraph is shown here).


From our own gathered visual evidence alone, Chapman was clearly wrong. As he was

not a costume expert and did not have access to Google image, his mistake (which is a mere throwaway and not an actual analysis) is understandable—but his dismissal should no longer be allowed to stand.



















pic craig

The ‘Misses Sloper’ By Thomas Gainsborough. Gainsborough Died in 1788.

Portrait of an unknown girl by Craig, painted in 1794.  

Beginning with R.W. Chapman, a number of critics have questioned the style of the dress Jane is wearing.  In rebuttal, we are publishing examples of comparable dresses.


As Ozias Humphry’s distinctive OH monogram and the date, 1788?, have now been discovered on the portrait, any lingering concerns about the dress are automatically answered. However it is important to understand how they arose in the first place and why the early attribution was ever doubted.


John Russell, a young girl. 1780.

Note frilled neckline, small gold earrings and short hair.


Arlaud-Jurine, portrait of a young girl, 1790. Note sleeves, short hair, and high waistline.


George Engleheart, Jane Long, 1787. Note high waisted dress, frilled neckline and spotted muslin.


William Beechey, The Oddie Children, 1789. Note frilled neckline and banding on muslin.

Up until the 1750s the dress of children largely echoed that of their parents, but in the

second half of the eighteenth century a new idea of ‘childhood’ was emerging, which

influenced dress styles for children.


Anne Buck (Dress in Eighteenth Century England) writes:  The period between the age of

three or four until the age of thirteen or fourteen acquired an identity of its own and its own style

of dress…From 1760s the frock and sash began to take over completely. The age for continuing to

wear it, in best dress as well as everyday dress, gradually rose, until by the 1780s it was being worn

by girls in their early teens in all dress.


She further writes: The significance of these new forms of dress for children is not only that they

changed children’s dress, but that adult changes were foreshadowed in them and were apparent

here before clearly emerging in adult dress. The girls’ dress, with its freer bodice and sash was the

style which by the end of the 1780s was becoming adult fashion, carrying the same freedom into

women’s dress; once again women and girls were dressed alike.


Lillian and Ted Williams who are experts in eighteenth century costume wrote about

Jane’s dress in the ‘Rice Portrait’. Some of Lillian’s collection has been shown at the M

etropolitan Museum in New York, and the Musée de la Mode and

the Louvre in Paris.


Having carefully examined the actual portrait, as opposed to its reproduction, we find several elements that clearly suggest an

eighteenth century dating starting in the late 1780s. We ourselves have owned several eighteenth century gowns similar to the one

pictured in the Rice Portrait. In the Rice Portrait, we note the fullness of the cut of the dress with substantial distribution of its fabric around the bodice rather than trained in the rear in the later Empire style. Furthermore, the gauze gathered around the neckline – which is not discernible in many photographic reproductions – is consistent with late eighteenth century garniture. Finally, the shoes and certainly the parasol with its fringe of cut green silk are consistent with the same period. As far as dating is concerned, the width of the ribbon at the bodice is of no consequence one way or the other in our view.


Sir Thomas Lawrence, Pinkie, 1794.Note frilled neckline, high waist and shoes.


Ozias Humphry, Portrait of Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire Note - high waisted dress date 1782 - 6 years before Jane Austen portrait.

ladiesweldergrave (2)

Ozias Humphry, This picture was known as the Ladies Waldegrave as Venus and Juno.  Note high waisted dresses.

Ozias Humphry's sketch for the Ladies Waldegrave as Venus and Juno. Note the 'OH'.


Beauty in Search of Knowledge

Note green parasol.

Website Design by Aimee Bell at at www.authordesignstudio.com.

lwsketch janeausten dress

Edward Corbet and His Family, 1792, by Ben Marshall

Click to enlarge


'Gallery of Fashion,' by Heideloff and Ackermann. Fashion Plate. England, 18th century.

'A Portrait of Jane Austen the Novelist by Zoffany was reproduced by Lord Brabourne in 1884 and (having been cleaned in the interval)  in the ‘Life’ of 1912. It had a pedigree (see Life p. 63) that any layman might think watertight: but it cannot be Jane Austen. It is a portrait of a young girl which can be dated by the costume to about 1805 (when JA was thirty) or later.'


- Jane Austen: Facts and Problems by R.W. Chapman (Clark Lectures, Trinity College Cambridge 1948) Page 213 note II


George Morland (1763 - 1804)

A Visit to the Boarding School c. 1788

Chapman quote-1

Click to enlarge


Portrait of a Child, c.1790, by Vladimir Borovikovsky (Russian Museum, St Petersburg)