A panel of experts in Britain has created a realistic portrait of Mr. Darcy, of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Sadly, the portrait bears no resemblance to the handsome actors who have portrayed the character in film and television adaptations of the classic novel.
According to The Guardian, the portrait (the work of illustrator Nick Hardcastle) shows how Mr. Darcy would look according to fashion and social standards of the Georgian era in Britain. The study into Mr. Darcy’s true appearance was done by John Sutherland, a University College London professor of modern English literature, and Amanda Vickery, who teaches early modern history at Queen Mary University in London. The pair studied male beauty norms from the Georgian era and even took into account Jane Austen’s romantic life, including who she may have seen as inspiration for Darcy.
As The New York Times reports, the study found that “the ‘real’ Mr. Darcy would have been pale and pointy-chinned, and would have had a long nose on an oval, beardless face. His hair, strangely, would have been white. And he would have been slightly undernourished, with sloping shoulders.”
This description comes as a disappointment to many fans of the novel and its various screen adaptations. The most famous actor to play Mr. Darcy was Colin Firth in the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. And a 2005 film version of the novel starred Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as her romantic counterpart. Both versions presented Mr. Darcy as a strapping and handsome gentleman.
The novel itself provides only a brief description of Mr. Darcy when he first appears in the story. Austen writes that he is of “fine, tall person, handsome features, [and] noble mien.” Vickery said of the new version, “As Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice in the 1790s, our Mr. Darcy portrayal reflects the male physique and common features at the time. Men sported powdered hair, had narrow jaws and muscular, defined legs were considered very attractive. A stark contrast to the chiselled, dark, brooding Colin Firth portrayal we associate the character with today.”
I think we’d all prefer to forget this ever happened.
YouTube Channel: UKTV
Featured image via Nick Hardcastle/The Guardian
h/t The Guardian