What is probably Jane Austen's most famous statement about her novel writing is the quotation taken from a letter to her nephew in which she refers to her writing as "the little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour" ( Jane Austen: Selected Letters189). This quotation has often been used to support the idea that Austen saw her novels as minor stories of little import in a world of finer, more significant writing. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth. The context of this famous quotation is a joke. Her young nephew, Edward, had been writing a novel of his own, but had somehow misplaced two and a half chapters. When Austen heard about the loss in a letter she received, she responded with sympathy and humor. Austen's comment was a way of jokingly distancing herself from the loss, claiming that she could certainly not have stolen the chapters for her own writing since she had not been present to take them, nor would his wildly elaborate, probably gothic, style of writing fit into her own more sedate and detailed form of writing. Her writing style had more in common, she implies, with the popular Dutch miniaturist painters of the time than with the Antiquaries, monastic ruins, and vicious villains of the gothic novel. By comparing her novels with the paintings of the Dutch miniaturists, Austen was, in fact, comparing the subject of her novels with art that was highly honored and appreciated in her day, not belittling it, as is so often assumed by her Victorian and twentieth-century critics and biographers.