Henry James Framed


Henry James Framed

Material Representations of the Master

Michael Anesko

288 pages
8 photographs, 31 illustrations (color gallery), index


October 2022


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2022


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2022


$60.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Henry James Framed is a cultural history of Henry James as a work of art. Throughout his life, James demonstrated an abiding interest in—some would say an obsession with—the visual arts. In his most influential testaments about the art of fiction, James frequently invoked a deeply felt analogy between imaginative writing and painting. At a time when having a photographic carte de visite was an expected social commonplace, James detested the necessity of replenishing his supply or of distributing his autographed image to well-wishing friends and imploring readers. Yet for a man who set the highest premium on personal privacy, James seems to have had few reservations about serving as a model for artists in other media and sat for his portrait a remarkable number of twenty-four times.

Surprisingly few James scholars have brought into primary focus those occasions when the author was not writing about art but instead became art himself, through the creative expression of another’s talent. To better understand the twenty-four occasions he sat for others to represent him, Michael Anesko reconstructs the specific contexts for these works’ coming into being, assesses James’s relationships with his artists and patrons, documents his judgments concerning the objects produced, and, insofar as possible, traces the later provenance of each of them.

James’s long-established intimacy with the studio world deepened his understanding of the complex relationship between the artist and his sitter. James insisted above all that a portrait was a revelation of two realities: the man whom it was the artist’s conscious effort to reveal and the artist, or interpreter, expressed in the very quality and temper of that effort. The product offered a double vision—the strongest dose of life that art could give, and the strongest dose of art that life could give.

Author Bio

Michael Anesko is a professor of English and American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of Henry James and Queer Filiation: Hardened Bachelors of the Edwardian Era and Generous Mistakes: Incidents of Error in Henry James, among others.


"Henry James Framed is a beautifully produced book."—Daniel A. Burr, Gay & Lesbian Review

“Who knew there were so many portraits of Henry James? Henry James Framed is both an engaging catalogue of these images and a collective biography that invites us to see the artist through the eyes of some of his most visually gifted contemporaries.”—Ruth Bernard Yeazell, Sterling Professor of English at Yale University

“In his sparkling Henry James Framed Michael Anesko takes us on a characteristically witty and civilized journey through James’s life and career—through the surprising number of likenesses (and unlikenesses) that were made of him between 1862 and 1914. Through brilliant detective work, we get a delightful, stimulating picture of the social and artistic world of this great novelist who was also an inveterate critic of art—and, as we learn, frequently its subject.”—Philip Horne, founding general editor of The Cambridge Edition of the Complete Fiction of Henry James series

“Michael Anesko freshly and incisively illuminates Henry James’s relationships with artists, the circumstances of his sitting for portraits, the critical (and personal) reception of the finished works, and the provenance of the pieces during and after James’s life. Henry James Framed is a delight to read.”—Linda Simon, author of The Critical Reception of Henry James: Creating a Master

“This useful volume provides fascinating tales of how the portraits were received privately and in public exhibitions, as well as when and how they changed hands, were sold or bequeathed. Anesko provides well-researched tracings of the histories of these works and the stories each portrait has to tell, deploying his extensive knowledge of James’s life and writings with an incisive touch.”—Tamara Follini, general editor of The Cambridge Edition of the Complete Fiction of Henry James series

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Partial to Portraits
1. Uncanny Possession: The Queer Provenance of John La Farge’s Henry James
2. “I, Too, Am Someone Here”: The Birth of the Lion
3. “Yielding to the Bard’s Behest”: Paying Court in George Du Maurier’s Two Thrones
4. “Civilized to His Fingertips”: James’s Sargent, Sargent’s “James”
5. “Nicer than Most of Them”: John White Alexander’s Forgotten Illustration
6. In a “Cosmo de’ Medici Mood”: Larkin Goldsmith Mead’s Henry James
7. “Making Quite a Reputation”: The “Theatrical Manner” of Paul Tilton’s Henry James
8. “Dear” Henry James: Anna Lea Merritt’s Lost Portrait
9. “A Student of Taste”: Rudolf Lehmann’s “Henry James”
10. “Commendably Droll”: Philip Burne Jones Paints Henry James
11. “My Own Head on the Block”: William Rothenstein’s Portraits of Henry James
12. “The Smooth & Anxious Clerical Gentleman”: Ellen Emmet’s Henry James
13. “Won’t It Be Fun?”: Jane Erin Emmet von Glehn’s Weekend Sketch
14. “Not Positively or Richly Rejoiceful”: Hendrik Christian Andersen’s Henry James
15. “The Profile of an Eagle”: Jacques-Émile Blanche’s Henry James
16. “Too Little of the Promise”: The Favorite Nephew’s Henry James
17. An “Astonishing” Economy of Means: Cecilia Beaux’s “Henry James”
18. “A Rather ‘Important’ Piece”: Annie Louisa Swynnerton’s Henry James
19. “Difficult, Perverse, Obscure”: John Singer Sargent’s Charcoal Portrait
20. “A Very Fine Thing Indeed”: John Singer Sargent’s Henry James
21. “My Aged and Battered Mug”: Derwent Wood’s Portrait Bust
22. “Not with the Happiest Result”: Lewis Charles Powles’s Henry James
Epilogue: A Case of Mistaken Identity

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