This miniature portrait of Mary Pearson by William Wood was sold to Jane Austen’s House by Philip Mold.
Painted by William Wood (1769-1810), the miniature depicts Mary Pearson and was donated by the London Gallery for £ 7,500.
Pearson was the daughter of a naval officer and was engaged to Henry Thomas Austen, a dashing young man in the “regiments” and brother of Jane, in 1796. After meeting Pearson, Jane pointed out to her sister that their mother would be “disappointed” with reality after seeing the bride-to-be depicted – perhaps in this miniature portrait.
The object in question, a 9 cm high watercolor on ivory, is in a gold frame with braided hair on the back.
Before being gifted by Mold, it was passed down from Pearson’s family by descent – it is believed to have been returned to the Pearsons after Henry’s awkward engagement ended. Jane was responsible for returning letters from the abandoned lover.
Pearson has married twice and continues to live on as Lydia Bennett’s supposed inspiration in Austen’s 1813 novel. Pride and Prejudice.
Mold told ATG: “Finding a face that has lit the imagination of a great writer is extremely satisfying, especially when it joins other artifacts in the author’s own home. When art has a larger context it can attract a lot more people – like holding a story candle. “
This is one of many recent acquisitions by the museum and was purchased with support from the Beecroft bequest and the Art Fund.
The house of Jane Austen also recently added to its collection a trio of miniatures representing the author’s neighbors, the Digweed family. These went under the hammer to Dominic Winter last July. One sold for £ 1,600, while the other two sold for £ 1,650 each.