Thursday, 21 May 2009

Zenobia the strong-minded

Sarah Laycock writes:
A newly acquired Brontë treasure will go on display at the Parsonage this half-term for the first time.

The delicate pencil drawing was recently bought by the Brontë Society from a private owner in the USA, following a successful public appeal and grants from The Art Fund and the MLA / V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

The drawing, by Charlotte Brontë, is a portrait of one of the most significant characters in the Brontës’ early writings, Zenobia Marchioness Ellrington. Zenobia is a strong-minded, independent and intellectual woman, a forerunner to Jane Eyre and other later Brontë heroines. It is thought that the portrait of Zenobia was modelled on the Countess of Blessington, who Charlotte would have been aware of through her friendship with the scandalous Lord Byron - a great inspiration to all of the Brontë siblings.

Zenobia is one of three characters all drawn on the same day, in a burst of creativity by the 17 year-old Charlotte. The other two drawings are still in private collections and are only known through reproductions, so we are delighted that visitors to the museum will now be able to see this rare and wonderful drawing for the first time.

The Zenobia drawing will be displayed at the museum through the half-term holiday before it is removed for conservation work to be undertaken. Half-term is also a chance to see the museum’s current special exhibition, Who Were The Brontës, before it closes in early June, and the newly refurbished exhibition space, which features the treasures of the museum’s collection and fun interactive displays for families. There are also puppet making workshops for children on Wednesday 26 May (bookings: 01535 640185). There will be a limited number of special, 2 for 1 vouchers available in the village, including the Tourist Information Centre, allowing one adult or child free admission to the museum when accompanied by another adult.

Contacts & Further Information:
For further information on any new acquisitions please contact Ann Dinsdale - Collections Manager on 01535 640198

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