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‘Austen’ Rice portrait: new controversy

Rice portrait

The long-running debate about the authenticity of the so-called Rice portrait, believed by some to be of a teenage Jane Austen, sprung to life again at the weekend.

According to the Daily Mail, a new digital analysis of the painting has uncovered writing in one corner that might link it to Jane Austen.

The painting is owned by the Rice family, direct descendants of one of Jane’s brothers. It came to light in the late 19th century and the family say it was composed while the Austens were visiting Jane’s great uncle Francis in Kent in 1789, when the girl was 13.

The controversy comes hot on the heels of the suggestion by the academic Dr Paula Byrne that a portrait in her possession is of Jane Austen.

The authenticity of the Rice portrait has long been disputed, and it was dismissed by the National Portrait Gallery many years ago – mainly because the style of the girl’s dress dates the painting to the 1800s, when Jane Austen would have been in her twenties.

More information from the Rice family can be found here.

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