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Jane Austen Revealed Through Art
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Wednesday, January 11, 2023
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Hailey Public Library will celebrate the January 1813 publication of “Pride and Prejudice” this week with a free talk looking at the life and influence of author Jane Austen.

Educator Kathryn Zupsic will discuss “The World of Jane Austen: Art, Fashion and Eligible Gentlemen” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at Town Center West near the library.

The lecture will focus on Austen whose six novels including “Sense and Sensibility” and “Emma” are well known but whose life is much more obscure. Despite the many romantic entanglements in her novels and her plots which focus on the dependence of women on marriage for social standing and economic security, she herself lived a quiet life with her family in rural England, never married and died in 1817 at age 43.

Little biographic information about her life exists except for 161 of the 3,000 letters she wrote over her lifetime.

While her novels rarely extend beyond the south of England, she lived during remarkable times in which England lost the American Revolutionary War, England battled Napoleon for 10 years and the French Revolution took place.

The Industrial Revolution was irrevocably changing daily life and the very structure of English society. And portrait artists such as Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough and others who were part of the Golden Age of British painting were painting the ladies, gentlemen and officers of Austen’s day, offering a look at class distinctions, military life and fashions.

Others, such as John Constable and J.M.W. Turner, were painting the country estates and gardens of the English landscape that figures so prominently in Austen’s novels.

“Who knew the beloved novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was first published in January 1813—210 years ago!” said Kristin Fletcher, the library’s education and engagement manager. “Art educator Kathryn Zupsic will reveal details about the life of this remarkable writer through the arts of her time. And we’ll have a special little surprise for each person who attends.”

Zupsic, a native of Portland,  has been an art educator for more than 25 years, working as a docent and lecturer for the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the de young Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She specializes in modern art from Frida Kahlo to pop art to the fine art of the tattoo.

 

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