Rare John Keats Portrait Comes to Auction

Manila Bulletin, April 13, 2013 | Go to article overview

Rare John Keats Portrait Comes to Auction


A rare portrait of John Keats, unusually showing the poet meeting the artist's eye rather than gazing melancholically into space, has come to light in the hands of an American owner.

Most contemporary images of Keats are derived from Joseph Severn's miniature of the poet, in which he rests his head on one hand, looking wistfully at a point behind his friend. This new image does not stem from this work or any others made during his short life, and is therefore believed to have been painted from life, according to Bonhams auction house. It is "unique", said head of miniature portraits Jennifer Tonkin, as the pictures of the poet which do exist "rarely show him looking directly at the viewer".

The miniature, which is ascribed by Bonhams to the "circle of [painter] Charles Hayter" is set to be auctioned by Bonhams next month, and is expected to raise between [pounds sterling]10,000 and [pounds sterling]15,000. Tonkin said it "has the power to move anyone who has ever admired Keats's work".

She dated the image to between 1810 and 1815, judging by the clothes - a black double-breasted coat and waistcoat, white frilled chemise, stock and tie - that Keats is wearing in the portrait. …

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