In order to celebrate Charlotte Brontë’s bicentenary the National Portrait Gallery organized a special exhibit this year (22 February – 16 August 2016)- Celebrating Charlotte Brontë. In this gallery in the very heart of London, just behind the popular Trafalgar Square, an entire room, room n. 24, is dedicated to Charlotte. In a corner you can admire the most important item of the exhibit, Charlotte’s famous portrait by George Richmond. It is a 1850 live painted portrait, and usually it is not on public show. In fact I was able to see it just once before this occasion- in 1983 during my very first travel to London.
On the side wall there are some other important portraits of people, heroes and authors, Charlotte was fond of like the Duke of Wellington, Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron, as well as some contemporary female authors like Harriet Martineau and Elizabeth Gaskell (these two portraits were by George Richmond too.)
Moreover in room n.24 you can find the portraits of those who contributed to Charlotte’s success- her editor George Smith’s, William M. Thackerary’s famous portrait, a small sketch of G.H. Lewes’ face and a marble bust of Robert Southey, who actually kind of opposed to Charlotte’s success as a female author.
Moreover “The Pillar Portrait” is there, and also Emily’s fragment from the “Gun Portrait”, as always on show at the National Portrait Gallery. In room n.24 there are also lots of Charlotte’s personal items – drawings, young writings, documents about her job as a teacher and about the period she spent in Brussels, some letters about her siblings’ deaths, her marriage and even some lines written just before dying. After 16 August the exhibit will be moved to the Morgan Library in New York.
Maddalena De Leo