Emilly Bronte portrait painting sold for $7,200 at auction - with another to follow

As we noted in our before they were famous… blog post, there is constant interest in the lives of the Bronte sisters from those who want to see a little further into their lives than their limited numbers of books will allow.

This was particularly obvious when a miniature manuscript by Charlotte Bronte was sold in December 2011 by Sotheby's for £690,850, but it also applies to images of the sisters.

In the same month as the manuscript sale, a painting of Charlotte's sister Emily sold at a UK auction house for £23,800. This 'bonnet painting' shows her as a little severe, her wan face casting a rather unfriendly gaze over her shoulder.

The somewhat severe 'Bonnet Portrait' of Emily Bronte
The somewhat severe 'Bonnet Portrait' of Emily Bronte

Following swiftly on from that, another very different portrait was consigned to the same auction house, also purporting to be of the famed author, but presenting her rather more classically beautiful with almond-shaped eyes, neat black hair and full red lips.

Ahead of the sale, auctioneer Jonathan Humbert commented, "I am amazed that this second painting has turned up on our doorstep. One unknown portrait of Emily Bronte is luck but two in two months is quite remarkable!

"This painting is definitely mid-19th century and further, has been attributed to Miss Bronte by the artist at the time of painting."

Beautiful Emily Bronte portrait painting
Looking better... The second Emily Bronte portrait painting

Nevertheless, the relative lack of proof relating to the painting led to its being given an estimate of just £3,000-4,000 and it sold for just over that at £4,600, indicating how crucial provenance is in these matters.

Incredibly however, the auctioneer has indicated that it has a third Bronte painting which will be put up for auction in April. Watch this space for more on that.

Alternatively, fans of the Brontes, whether they're interested in 19th century authors or great female authors in general, might what to look at our stock items, whether it's a Charles Dickens handwritten signed letter or a limited edition copy of Orlando signed by Virginia Woolf.

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