Charles Dickens' wife discovered in antique camera shop
A recently unearthed portrait of Charles Dickens' wife, Catherine, will be sold at Bonhams on May 17
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Thursday 19 April 2012
Bonhams is to sell a portrait of Charles Dickens' wife, Catherine, which has been found in an antique camera shop.
The newly-discovered profile of Catherine Dickens will be sold on May 17, 2012, following its discovery in Canterbury, UK. It was originally believed to have been a portrait of the author's sister but after research, scholars identified it as his wife.
The photograph is by John Jabez Edwin Mayall, who took the first carte-de-visite photographs of Queen Victoria. The letters of Charles Dickens reveal that he sat for the photographer in 1852 and the resulting image was sold by Christie's in 2001 for £39,950.
The patent date on the piece reads "Reg July 20 1852", causing scholars to deduce that the couple sat for the photographs together and the images may have been intended as a pair.
The discovery is the only daguerreotype photograph of Catherine known to exist, warranting an estimate of £8,000-12,000. The portrait will be sold along with two ivory passes for the 1870 Italian Opera, which were discovered inside the morocco-bound casing. The tickets bear the name "Miss Dickens" and may have been a gift to their oldest daughter Mary.
Also in the auction is a portrait of Valentine Pinsep by Julia Margaret Cameron. Seemingly unconnected to the earlier piece at first, it is believed that the Dickens' youngest daughter, Kate had a love affair with the artist, increasing its worth to collectors.
Cameron's work will be seen again in the auction, this time an image known as The Dirty Monk. A portrait of Alfred Lord Tennyson, the item has been signed by the poet himself. An estimate of £6,000-8,000 has been set.
Paul Fraser Collectibles has a superb collection of Charles Dickens items in stock. This handwritten letter from the author displays both his signature and his address.
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