“Busts of the Mercantile” Wednesday: Charles Dickens

img_0484.JPGFor years the Library offered a free one-year membership to anyone who could identify the subject of the portrait bust attached hereto. There is no record of its accession in the minutes or annual reports. Does the bust look epicene in two dimensions? That is certainly the case in three. Many stabs were made. The most frequent guesses were Percy Bysshe Shelley and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Well, as Norm de P. says, they’re both old-timey and literary. 19th century art expert John Wilson was an interested Shelley partisan who made a special effort to check out Percy B. S. on one of his trips to the U.K., but had to admit that whoever we had, it wasn’t the tiresome but v. famous romantic poet. Identification came at last when a crew from Lion Films came to town. They were retracing Charles Dickens’s 1842 tour of the U.S. in search of lost royalties and possible speaking engagements. The totally charming gang of actors, producers, technicians, and one actress were amused that we didn’t recognize the sitter as the 29 year old Dickens. The sculptor was the American Henry Dexter who captured the likeness on that tour before the development of the famous chin whiskers.

The BBC has already run the 12 part Dickens in North America documentary, but the local PBS stations haven’t bought it yet. Perhaps Stacked readers might agitate for a showing?

-Nemo Wolf

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Published in: on November 22, 2006 at 5:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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