Drawing of Jane Austen by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (National Portrait Gallery London)
Emma Woodhouse, Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and the Dashwood sisters may be fictional heroines, but their creator Jane Austen set their adventures in romance against the very real social and historical backdrop of Regency England.
Art historian Bonita Billman brings the era to life during a delightful day of cultural time travelling. She surveys Regency manners and fashions, the personalities who dominated the public imagination, and the stylish spa town of Bath, where many of Austen’s characters made appearances.
Which fashionable painter might have produced the portrait of Georgiana Darcy in Pride and Prejudice? What style of house would an Austen heroine choose? How would Emma dress to impress at a ball? Billman’s portrait of this colorful and lively time may offer some answers.
Billman is retired from the department of history and art history at Georgetown University.
9:30–10:45 a.m. The Period’s Personalities
Fascinating figures of the Regency era drew acclaim, celebrity, and gossip. Meet Beau Brummell, the Prince Regent, the Duke of Wellington, actresses Sarah Siddons and Elizabeth Farren, and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Regency Portraiture
Sir Thomas Lawrence, chief portraitist of the Regency period, and other artists created distinctive styles of beauty and taste.
12:15 –1:15 p.m. Break
1:15–2:30 p.m. Late-Georgian Architecture
Pay a visit to Bath and also view residences stately, picturesque, and Gothic where Jane Austen’s characters might feel at home.
2:45–4 p.m. The Fabric of Regency Life
A survey of customs and manners, interior decoration and fashion, social life and everyday life provides a cultural context for Austen’s characters.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*
*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.