Lost Portrait of Charles Dickens Found in a Junk Sale in South Africa

Culture | November 22, 2018, Thursday // 16:52|  views

What the Dickens: A lost portrait of the Victorian writer has been rediscovered after 174 years ( Margaret Gillies RWS (1803–1887), Portrait of Charles Dickens (1812–1870), courtesy Philip Mould & Company )

A portrait of Charles Dickens that had been lost for 174 years has been found in a box of trinkets in South Africa, reported standard.co.uk

The portrait shows the famous Victorian writer at the age of 31, and was painted by artist and social campaigner Margaret Gillies in 1843, during the same weeks that Dickens was writing his festive classic A Christmas Carol.

It will now go on display at Pall Mall gallery of Philip Mould & Company, the art dealers who formally identified the portrait.

‘This portrait adds greatly to our perception of the charismatic young blade that Dickens was at the time and is so different to the avuncular, bearded man we know from photographs,” said Philip Mould OBE.

“Unlike other literary portraits of the period, that can be formulaic, the subject fixes you with an arresting gaze, boring into you with the same eyes that recorded a wealth of material about his life and times.”

Its rediscovery comes in the 175th anniversary year of A Christmas Carol, having been found at a general sale in South Africa among a collection of objects including a brass dish and a metal lobster.

The portrait was last seen in public in 1844 when it was displayed at the Royal Academy in London. It was since lost and, following repeated attempts to track it down, Gillies officially reported it unaccounted for in 1886. Poet Elizabeth Barrett Brown had commented that the portrait showed “the dust and mud of humanity about him, notwithstanding those eagle eyes”.

‘Charles Dickens: The Lost Portrait’ runs at Philip Mould Gallery 22nd November 2018 – 25th January 2019. For more information, visit philipmould.com 

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Tags: charles dickens, portrait, lost, Africa, auction


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