Source: The Guardian
The lost portrait of Charles Dickens, which was recently rediscovered after 130 years, is to go on display in his home in April.
The painting by Margaret Gillies will be shown from 2-7 April in the Charles Dickens Museum in west London, where the novelist wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, completed The Pickwick Papers and began Barnaby Rudge.
Dickens moved into the Bloomsbury townhouse with his young family in 1837. The museum now there possesses the world’s most comprehensive collection of material relating to his life and work.
The museum is trying to raise funds to purchase the painting and bring it permanently to Doughty Street. Its campaign has so far raised £65,000 of the £180,000 required.
In 2017, a portrait miniature covered in mould was sold in an auction of household goods in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, as part of a box of trinkets.
The painting arrived at the Philip Mould & Co gallery in London last year and after conservation and provenance research was confirmed to be the portrait of Dickens by Gillies.
The painting required six sittings in 1843 when Dickens was 31 years old and in the process of writing A Christmas Carol.
After its publication, the portrait was exhibited at the 1844 Royal Academy summer exhibition.
On seeing the portrait, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning said it “has the dust and mud of humanity about him, notwithstanding those eagle eyes”. Dickens, who was born in Portsmouth, died in 1870 at 58.
In 1886, Gillies said she had “lost sight of the portrait itself” and it remained lost until the auction in South Africa.
Cindy Sughrue, the director of the Charles Dickens Museum, said: “We are excited to be bringing the beautiful lost portrait to the museum. When Philip Mould contacted us last year, and we were able to see an image of the painting, it was a thrilling moment.
“The discovery would have been remarkable in any event but it is even more so because the portrait itself is exquisite.
“The skill of the artist is evident in the fineness of every brushstroke, in each strand of hair and the sparkling eyes that look right into yours. And in those eyes you see the complexity of the man – the confidence of success, the urgency, warmth and compassion, but also a hint of vulnerability.
“This display is only a fleeting one, but we are confident of raising the remaining funds needed to bring the portrait to the museum permanently.
“We are very grateful to everybody who has donated to the cause so far and urge those with a love of Dickens to help us reach our fundraising goal.”