Pencil sketch by Charlotte Brontë, which new research reveals is a self-portrait alongside George Richmond’s portrait. Composite: Pierpont Morgan Library/Getty Images
Experts say author made drawing, sketched on her school atlas, years before writing Jane Eyre in which protagonist draws herself in similar fashion.
A sketch of a woman’s head by Charlotte Brontë, previously thought to be of another pupil drawn while the author was at boarding school in Brussels, has been identified as a self-portrait.
The literary biographer Claire Harman said the drawing, which she suggests shows Brontë looking into a mirror, preceded the novel Jane Eyre, in which the protagonist also draws herself in a similar fashion.
The sketch dates from 1843, four years before Brontë published Jane Eyre, one of English literature’s great masterpieces, and when the young writer was suffering the agonies and insecurities of unrequited love.
The drawing was known to be by Brontë, not least because it was sketched on her school atlas.
Harman’s discovery is “massively significant” as there are only two other known lifetime portraits of Brontë.
Despite the sketch’s small size – barely 1.5 inches high – its facial details resemble those in an 1850 image by George Richmond, now in the National Portrait Gallery, although the artist was known to flatter his sitters. Read more: theguardian/charlotte-bronte-sketch-identified-self-portrait
Ann Dinsdale, collections manager of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth, says that it is hard to prove the identity conclusively, but the sketch 'does certainly resemble the sitter in the Richmond portrait' dailymail./New-self-portrait-Charlotte-Bronte-discovered-drew-looking-mirror-just-like-great-heroine-Jane-Eyre