This website reconstructs an important art exhibit at the British Institution in London that Jane Austen is said to have visited in 1813. In a letter to her sister Cassandra, Austen wrote that she was looking for the portraits of Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Bingley. She said she found the latter and still needed to find the former. Each painting comes with a brief rundown on its significance in Austen studies, as well as pertinent quotes from classic Austen works, commentary on politics and poetry, and other delights. It’s kind of amazing. Here, a sample of the kind of stuff you’ll read about an otherwise mundane portrait of a Lord Chancellor:
While law was a respectable semi-genteel profession, attorneys were not regarded as members of elegant society. In Pride and Prejudice, the snobbish Bingley sisters sneer at the “low connections” of the Bennets: “I think I have heard you say, that their uncle is an attorney in Meryton.” “Yes; and they have another, who lives somewhere near Cheapside.” “That is capital,” added her sister, and they both laughed heartily.