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Sunday, January 3

Jane Austen Movie Throwdown

When she saw a portrait of Mrs. Harriet Quinton (who was mistress to the Prince Regent), Jane Austen wrote in a letter dated May, 1813 of how much Mrs. Q resembled her vision of Jane Bennet: "Mrs Bingley is exactly herself, size, shaped face, features & sweetness; there never was a greater likeness. She is dressed in a white gown, with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I had always supposed, that green was a favourite colour with her." Two actresses who portrayed Jane Bennet come close to resembling this portrait: Sabina Franklyn (1980 Jane) and Maureen O'Sullivan (1940 Jane). Susannah Harker of P&P 1995 and Rosamund Pike of P&P 2005 are both tall, slender, and blond, and thus they were eliminated. In your opinion, which actress came the closest to matching Jane Austen's vision of Jane Bennet?

This actress most resembles Jane Austen's vision of Jane Bennet

Maureen O'Sullivan, 1940 Pride and Prejudice

Sabina Franklyn, 1980 Pride and Prejudice

Information and quote from the Morgan Library website. Image of Sabina Franklyn from Kaye Dacus' blog.


Connie Onnie said...

Maureen O'Sullivan, has always been my favorite Jane.

Cinthia said...

I'm afraid this is one of the very few occasion when I will not cast my vote because unfortunately I disagree with the argument on why leaving out the most recent Janes.

Susannah Harker of P&P 1995 and Rosamund Pike of P&P 2005 are both tall, slender, and blond, and thus they were eliminated.

IMHO the portrait of Mrs. Quentin show us a blond woman. Thus for me, both Maureen O'Sullivan and Sabina Franklin were wrong as they were dark haired.

There are frequently criticism against Susannah Harker's beauty in several Austen fora, while IMHO she bears a very uncanny resemblance to the portrait. Furthermore, she was not precisely slender in the miniseries because she was pregnant during filming, so her figure then was quite as full as Mrs. Quentin at the time.

In conclusion, to me Susannah Harker as the actress most resembles Jane Austen's vision of Jane Bennet.

Vic said...

Hello Cinthia,

Thank you for your comment! I can only go by the image I saw at the Morgan Library last week, which is the William Blake engraving of Mrs. Q of the painting by Francois Huet-Villiers, and which depicts dark auburn hair. Having painted numerous watercolors myself, I would not have chosen those particular color combinations to depict blond hair. In addition, Susannah, despite her pregnancy during filming, has a tall, slim and graceful figure. I, too, loved Susannah's portrayal of Jane Bennet, but was struck by the short description at the Jane Austen exhibit in the Morgan Library, in which Jane A was quite specific in her liking of Mrs. Q's image. The two actresses who most resemble Mrs Q (in my opinion) are Maureen O and Sabina F. Perhaps I should have trusted our readers more and allowed them to choose from all the possible choices.

I found this description of the engraving in a 1912 volume:

JessC said...

I have to agree with Cinthia on this, too. When I saw the portrait at the Morgan Library, I first thought of Susannah Harker as Jane.
I was not aware she was pregnant during filming- that's quite interesting!

Anonymous said...

Well, auburn can mean "a reddish-brown or golden-brown color" per Looking at close-ups of the same portrait @ and, I'm going with someone with a golden brown colored hair versus a lighter blond color.

Enid Wilson said...

I voted for Sabina but I actually think actresses nowadays are too slim. Mrs. Harriet Quinton looked more lovely.

Really Angelic

Meredith R. said...

I have not been to the Morgan Library and I love Susannah Harker's portrayal of Jane Bennet. In my opinion hers is the definitive portrayal of Jane Bennet, but I have to agree that her features do not physically resemble Mrs. Quinton's. Susannah's nose and face are longer and her mouth is wider. In fact, I think Jennifer Ehle resembles Mrs. Quinton more than these two actresses.

Nonna said...

I chose Maureen O. because I liked her portrait of Jane but not the 1940 movie as a whole.

Susannah H. is my fav Jane and always shall her !

Mary said...

Personally I think Maureen O'Sullivan is the closest to having portrayed Jane the way I pictured her. In almost every other version, I have felt Lizzy to be far more attractive than Jane, which is inaccurate to the story. The painting is lovely; Jane Austen clearly pictured a "stunner" in her mind, and I know everyone loves Susannah but while she had the disposition of Jane down perfectly, I do not think she is attractive or "delicate" enough. Susannah is very masculine in her features, like she has strong features and a very wide neck.(Totally not meaning to offend just being honest) and I pictured Jane more delicate in her features, closer to Maureen O'Sullivan, but with slightly lighter colored hair, more golden brown like in the portrait.