Cassandra Austen's Artwork
Of her seven siblings, Jane Austen is thought to have had the closest relationship with her older sister Cassandra. As the only daughters of of Rev. George Austen and Cassandra Leigh, Jane and Cassandra remained close throughout their lives. After Austen's death, Cassandra is known for destroying the majority of her sister's correspondence. The 160 surviving letters, as well as Cassandra's artwork and accounts of Jane, provide a limited glimpse into the life of this beloved author.1
Growing up, the sisters engaged in many activities together for the purpose of education and leisure. While Jane became known for her writing, Cassandra developed an interest in drawing and watercolor painting. These are two of Cassandra's portraits of Jane in watercolor and pencil, dating from the early 19th century.
Cassandra provided the illustrations for the The History of England, a significant manuscript in Jane Austen's juvenilia. These contrasting depictions of Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I accompany Jane's tongue-in-cheek descriptions of the role of each monarch. Interestingly, it has also been noted that the portraits resemble members of the Austen family.2 Follow this link to the digitized manuscript to see the illustrations in context.
1 Laura Boyle, "Cassanda Austen: Jane Austen's Beloved Sister," July 16, 2011, Jane Austen Magazine, accessed August 16, 2016, https://www.janeausten.co.uk/cassandra-austen-jane-austens-beloved-older-sister/.
2 Annette Upfal and Christine Alexander, "Are We Ready for New Directions? Jane Austen's The History of England & Cassandra's Portraits," Persuasions On-line 30, no. 2 (2010), accessed September 12, 2016, http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol30no2/upfal-alexander.html.