Darcy's Picture Gallery
Jane Austen's Regency World|102 - November/December 2019
WHAT MIGHT ELIZABETH BENNET HAVE SEEN AS SHE WANDERED THROUGH THE CORRIDORS OF PEMBERLEY? VICTORIA C SKELLY CONSIDERS HOW THE OWNERS OF GREAT ESTATES IN JANE AUSTEN’S TIME VIEWED ART
Victoria C Skelly

ADMIRERS OF JANE AUSTEN’S NOVELS readily recall the pivotal scene in Pride & Prejudice, when the astonished and humbled Elizabeth Bennet is touring Pemberley with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner for the very first time. After surveying the grounds, the exterior architecture and views from inside the house, Elizabeth recognizes that the design of this estate warrants many artistic superlatives. Pemberley indeed has “some of the finest woods in the country”, where “every disposition of the ground was good”, and “from every window, there were beauties to be seen”. The narrator notes, as we imagine Elizabeth must be noted too, that the furniture there “had more real elegance than the furniture at Rosings”.

Subsequently, the narrator tells us: “The picture gallery, and two or three of the principal bedrooms, were all that remained to be shown. In the former were many good paintings, but Elizabeth knew nothing of the art; and from such as had been already visible below, she had willingly turned to look at some drawings of Miss Darcy’s, in crayons, whose subjects were usually more interesting, and also more intelligible.”

As Jane Austen always preferred to write about subjects she knew and understood, we could surmise, after surveying this passage and consulting some history, that the author, her narrator and the character Elizabeth knew much about the artistic landscape and architectural conversations of the day, but much less about painting. If Elizabeth finds Georgiana’s crayon pictures (Conte crayon sketching chalks in black, grey, white and sepia tones) to be more “interesting” and “intelligible”, that is probably because, as daughters of gentlemen, they would both be familiar with these sketching tools and the types of subject-matter that ladies drew.

That Elizabeth does venture to declare Darcy’s gallery of paintings “good” is intriguing because, as John Brewer, author of Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture In the Eighteenth Century writes, the reality was that most country houses in 18th-century England contained only a “mish-mash of mediocre art”. The Duke of Devonshire in 1766 had only very few paintings at Chatsworth, but then displayed “works of quality” at his townhouse in Piccadilly.

Later, a few outstanding country house collections of art were assembled, such as at Narford by Sir Andrew Fountaine, at Burghley by the Earl of Exeter, and at Wilton, by the Earl of Pembroke. English aristocrats who collected art tended to purchase while traveling (such as on the Grand Tour) or from a dealer in London. Old Master paintings were displayed mostly in London townhouses. Gradually collections were dispersed to the country houses, but this migration of quality painting was not complete until well into the 19th century.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM JANE AUSTEN'S REGENCY WORLDView All

How Did Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice Become A Christmas Story?

HO, HO, HO…how did Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice become a Christmas story? Devoney looser investigates

8 mins read
Jane Austen's Regency World
102 - November/December 2019

Jane's Beloved Friend

Judith Stove introduces her new biography of Anne Lefroy

4 mins read
Jane Austen's Regency World
102 - November/December 2019

Women Of Peterloo

MEN WERE NOT THE ONLY ONES DEMANDING REFORM IN AUGUST 1819. MANY WOMEN CAME TO MANCHESTER FOR A DAY OF PROTEST, AND NOT ALL OF THEM MADE IT HOME, AS SUE WILKES REPORTS

8 mins read
Jane Austen's Regency World
102 - November/December 2019

Darcy's Picture Gallery

WHAT MIGHT ELIZABETH BENNET HAVE SEEN AS SHE WANDERED THROUGH THE CORRIDORS OF PEMBERLEY? VICTORIA C SKELLY CONSIDERS HOW THE OWNERS OF GREAT ESTATES IN JANE AUSTEN’S TIME VIEWED ART

7 mins read
Jane Austen's Regency World
102 - November/December 2019

Austen's Festive Music

A LARGE COLLECTION OF MUSIC WRITTEN OUT BY JANE AUSTEN REVEALS SOME POPULAR NURSERY RHYMES AND HER CHRISTMAS FAVOURITES, WRITES ROS OSWALD. PICTURES FROM THE NOVELS, BY CE BROCK

7 mins read
Jane Austen's Regency World
102 - November/December 2019

Last Days In Winchester

Jane Austen left Chawton on may 24, 1817, to seek medical help in the nearby city of Winchester. Elizabeth Jane Timms traces those final weeks of her life. line drawings by Ellen Hill c1901

5 mins read
Jane Austen's Regency World
88 – July/August 2017

The Archbishop's Bones

An important discovery was made recently in a London church. Maggie Lane was quick to spot the connection with Jane Austen  

9 mins read
Jane Austen's Regency World
88 – July/August 2017

Bath Time

The 17th Jane Austen festival, which takes place in bath in september, includes more than 80 events, as Jackie Herring explains. pictures from last year’s festival by Owen Benson

3 mins read
Jane Austen's Regency World
88 – July/August 2017

A New Online Face

The Jane Austen society of North America by Iris Lutz 

3 mins read
Jane Austen's Regency World
88 – July/August 2017

Candour And Comfort

Female friendships outside the family group rarely feature in Jane Austen’s fiction, yet she and Cassandra enjoyed a close relationship with the three youngest daughters of many down park, Hampshire as Hazel Jones explores 

6 mins read
Jane Austen's Regency World
89 - September/October 2017
RELATED STORIES

Elizabeth Holmes' Trial To Dissect Downfall Of A Tech Star

Just six years ago, Elizabeth Holmes seemed destined to fulfill her dream of becoming Silicon Valley’s next superstar. She was the subject of business magazine cover stories describing her as the youngest self-made female billionaire in history, former President Bill Clinton was reverently quizzing her about her thoughts on technology, and then Vice President Joe Biden was hailing her ideas as an inspiration.

4 mins read
AppleMagazine
September 10, 2021

MORE SCHOOLS JOIN TENNESSEE STATE-APPLE TECH INITIATIVE

A dozen historically Black colleges and universities will join Tennessee State University’s national coding hub as community centers, the school said.

1 min read
AppleMagazine
September 03, 2021

ELIZABETH LEINER ON Y&R EXIT

Y&R’s Tara Locke was escorted away in handcuffs for tax evasion on August 6, which means her portrayer, Elizabeth Leiner, has wrapped her run. Since the role, which began on March 1, was only supposed to last a few days, Leiner is grateful for the extended stay. “It was a wild ride as an actor,” she enthuses. “Every time they kept scheduling me, I would think, ‘Whatever is happening, I hope it keeps going.’ Tara was getting more interesting and I enjoyed seeing where she would go.”

4 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
August 23, 2021

70 Years of Hope & Inspiration

Elizabeth Sherrill’s life as a writer has been a journey of the soul, a journey that also became the very soul of Guideposts magazine

8 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021

SOUND OFF What's on your mind?

FOUR SURE I have been watching GH since I was in the womb and have continued watching into my adulthood. This is the first time I am reaching out because I am just so disappointed in the decimation of some beloved couples. Although I understood the Chase/Sasha/Michael/ Willow switch, I was ecstatic when the truth was finally revealed. But in just a few short weeks, the attempt at rekindling the former romances was dismantled. I absolutely love the dynamic between Chase and Willow. He has such a pure love for her; it’s beyond endearing. Sasha clearly loves Michael, as well, so I was shocked to hear them say it wasn’t working. Willow and Michael are just not a good fit for each other. Nothing against the actors — they are phenomenal. And now to ruin the relationship between Jordan and Curtis? I adore them together. I am truly hoping the writers will see that breaking up actors with insane chemistry is just plain wrong. Thank you for continuing to be the only magazine I read!

3 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
May 24, 2021

SEYFRIED LENDS GROUNDING PRESENCE TO CAMPY THRILLER

Hollywood thrillers in which sophisticated, attractive city folk move to creaky old country homes and experience scary things are a dime a dozen. Less common is when those Hollywood thrillers are based on the theology of 18thcentury Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg.

4 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #498

APPLE'S iPHONE PRIVACY CLAMPDOWN ARRIVES AFTER 7-MONTH DELAY

Apple is following through on its pledge to crack down on Facebook and other snoopy apps that secretly shadow people on their iPhones in order to target more advertising at users.

4 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #496

GH SCRIBES ON THE FALLOUT FROM FRANCO'S DEATH

Franco’s shocking demise at the hands of Peter have left Elizabeth fans wondering what the future holds for Franco’s widow — and for his killer, Peter.

1 min read
Soap Opera Digest
April 05, 2021

LIFE after DEATH

Roger Howarth Says Good-Bye To Franco — But Not GH

4 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
March 29, 2021

The Character-Actor Power Couple

Bill Camp and Elizabeth Marvel are two of the most in-demand performers working today. They are also really cute together.

6 mins read
New York magazine
March 15 - 28, 2021