Captured in a moment in time with faces forever staring at them and fingers ever pointing, the sitters from some well-known paintings get a chance to escape from the canvas, set the story straight or tell us their particular version of the story behind the image.
Painting: Portrait of Elizabeth Bridges Austen (1773-1808), housed at the Jane Austen's House Museum, Chawton
Elizabeth Bridges Austen was the daughter of a baronet, Sir Brook Bridges of Goodnestone Park, near Sandwich in Kent. In December 1791 she married Edward Austen, elder brother of the celebrated novelist Jane Austen. Between 1793 and 1808, Elizabeth bore eleven children, and was not infrequently assisted in their care and education by her sisters-in-law, Jane and Cassandra.
Elizabeth died suddenly, on 10 October 1808, less than a fortnight after the birth of her eleventh child. Her illness, thought at the time to be no more than the "Godmersham cold' then afflicting the family, was later discovered to be puerperal fever. Shortly after her death, Edward belatedly offered a cottage on one of his estates to his mother and sisters, ending their peripatetic existence since the retirement in 1801 of the Rev. George Austen, and his death in1805. They chose Chawton Cottage, now the Jane Austen House Museum at Chawton, where Jane Austen spent her final years, perhaps the most creative of her life. It is in this house that the portrait of Elizabeth hangs today.
Sophia Hillan situates her story during this final illness, as Elizabeth, unaware of its severity, rails at the thought of having her sister-in-law Jane attend her. But just what has made Elizabeth so angry with Jane?
Writer ... Sophia Hillan
Reader - Laura Carmichael
Producer - Heather Larmour.