The infamous lost portrait of Charles Dickens, painted over the span of six sittings in 1843 when Dickens was starting his most infamous story of all time, A Christmas Carol, is set to go on display in his curated home in April. This event is part of an endeavor by the Charles Dickens museum to raise enough funds to purchase the painting.
The Guardian writes that “[a]fter its publication, the portrait was exhibited at the 1844 Royal Academy summer exhibition”, but in 1886, sixteen years after Dickens’ death in 1870, quotes Gilles as saying she had “lost sight of the portrait itself”.
“Have you seen this portrait?” was the question asked for a hundred-and-seventy-four years.
Image Via CNN
Well, someone did.
Lifestyle reports that “the portrait was sold for £27 (about $36) in an auction of household goods in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, as part of a tray of trinkets. The finder originally bought it to sell the frame.”
Come early 2018, however, the buyers saw what they had. Even through the mold, they saw the same eyes that struck poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning and caused her to say, “the dust and mud of humanity about him, notwithstanding those eagle eyes.”
Just to be sure, they sent the piece to London to be authenticated.
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Art dealer Philip Mould of Philip Mould & Company authenticated the piece and told CNN that, “It was electrifying when it first came into the gallery, even though it was obscured by mold”.
Portrait found, end of story. Well, it’s not that simple.
Image Via PBS
The Charles Dickens Museum is looking to secure the portrait for its permanent collection, bringing it back to London to be put on permanent public display.
The portrait has a price tag: £180,000 ($238,921.56).
Asking the public for donations (link available here), the museum has so far raised £65,000 ($86,277.23).
With around 36% of funding raised, they’re getting there but it’s far from close. That’s actually why this display is happening. The museum has struck a deal, releasing a statement that says this stunning eagle-eyed miniature portrait “will be displayed from 2-7 April in the Study at 48 Doughty Street, the room in which Dickens wrote Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, completed The Pickwick Papers and began Barnaby Rudge.”
This attraction might hopefully give the museum a push, if not a full fledged blast, to the finish line. Either way, the Dicken’s miniature will be right back home above the desk where those magnificent and classic works of literature were constructed with the might pen itself.
Image Via Free Tours by Foot
I might just have to take a flight to Holborn, London.
Featured Image Via The Daily Beast