Wednesday, 6 June 2007

A lovely painting of Jane and Tom!

I found this nice painting of Tom Lefroy dancing with Jane Austen in Austen Effusions, that I visited through the link in Jane Austen's World (thanks, Ms. Place!). It has possibly the earliest rendition of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy, as Ms. Jane Odiwe painted it in or pre 2003 at least. I love the idea that she caught Jane-Tom fandom before the movie was even made, though I am not sure if she had the idea after reading Jon Spence's Becoming Jane Austen, or independent of it. Either way, this is what she wrote:

The first letter that Jane wrote to Cassandra, wishes her sister a happy birthday and then introduces us to a young man she cannot stop talking about. She is obviously very keen on Tom Lefroy, this "very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man" and his name is written again and again. She tells her sister how shockingly she has behaved with him and seems to be relating these incidents to provoke a reaction from Cassandra, who has already scolded her in a previous letter. They have danced three times in a row, sat down with each other and it seems had little time for anyone else.

One of the first images I wanted to produce, was that of Jane and Tom dancing together and I thought it would be fun to imagine the sort of letter Cassandra might have written to Jane, perhaps warning her to be cautious in her behaviour towards Tom, rather in the way that sensible Elinor tries to curb Marrianne's passionate excesses in Sense and Sensibility This illustration and Cassandra's first 'lost' letter inspired a whole series of paintings and letters, which I later turned into my book "Effusions of Fancy".

Interestingly, Ms. Odiwe rendered Tom Lefroy with light-coloured hair, the same way he was depicted in 'Who Was the Real Tom Lefroy'. This is a sketch of Tom Lefroy in his youth (circa 1800), possibly drawn by John Warren. I will try to get a better reference of the portrait, possibly from this book (Jane Austen's World). Tom was gorgeous, is he not? But I am happy that the make up designer retained James McAvoy's dark hair - he is much better with dark hair!

PS, 10 June 2007: I just bought Claire Tomalin's Jane Austen: A Life, and there I found the same picture of Tom Lefroy as the one above (without the bluish tone). It was not painted by John Warren as I thought, but by a G. Engleheart in 1799, a few years after Tom broke up with Jane. Sob sob! Still, he was a handsome lad, eh? Though... again, I have to be honest here; I think that James McAvoy's Tom Lefroy was more dashing than the real one, heheh...

I will put my short review of the excellent book later.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I just wanted to say hello-I have enjoyed your blog. My painting of Jane and Tom was inspired by Jane's letters-I do not think Mr Spence's book was published at the time. What I love about the new film is that finally I get to see Jane and Tom dancing together and even though the film is not entirely accurate, it reinforces the lovely idea that Jane experienced what it is to be in love.
Best wishes,
Jane Odiwe

Icha said...

Wow! THE Jane Odiwe herself! Thank you so much for dropping a comment in our blog, Rachel and I are truly honoured! And it is such an interesting thing that you actually based the painting on Jane's letters, because it was exactly how the movie depicted it (I might have to say that Jon Spence and the movie actually took your painting as a reference then!). I will email you again in case you do not receive this reply since you might not be a blogger.

Rachel said...

Thank you Jane. We are both so flattered that you have taken the time to write to us, it is greatly appreciated. I think that what drives the passion of this site is the hope that Jane did in fact experience true love in Tom Lefroy. I tell myself she did!
Thank you again