Last portrait of Coleridge could see $32,500 with Bonhams

The last known portrait of the famed romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge will sell as part of Bonhams' Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs in London on November 12.

Kayser Coleridge portrait
Coleridge was fond of Kayser, but was less enamoured with the portrait

Completed in the autumn of 1833, less than a year before the great poet died in July 1834, the pencil portrait was drawn from life at Highgate, London by Belgian artist J Kayser. It is expected to bring between £15,000 and £20,000 ($24,255-32,340).

The portrait's appeal is increased by a poem that Coleridge wrote for Kayser, which reads:

Well hast thou given the thoughtful Poet's face!
Yet hast thou on the tablet of his mind
A more delightful portrait left behind—
Even they own youthful beauty, and artless grace,
Thy natural gladness and eyes bright with glee!
Kayser! farewell!
Be wise! be happy! and forget not me.

However, Coleridge was not as enamoured with the portrait as he appeared.

When writing to the engraver EF Finden, he exclaimed that it was "a likeness, certainly, but with such unhappy density of the nose and idiotic drooping of the lip, with a certain pervading woodenness of the whole countenance, that is has not been though guilty of any great flattery by Mr Coleridge's friends."

A further drawing of Coleridge was made before his death in July 1834 for a published engraving, yet the original has not been traced, making this the latest surviving portrait. It is also one of only three known Coleridge portraits to remain in private hands.

The sale features an array of Coleridge-related lots, which Bonhams states is "likely to be the last opportunity to acquire major pieces associated with the poet".

The only known portrait of Coleridge's wife, Sara, is valued at £8,000-10,000 ($12,936-16,170), while a miniature of the pair's daughter is expected to make £3,000-4,000 ($4,851-6,468).

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