This, supposedly, is a portrait of the true gentleman who inspired Jane Austen's Fitzwilliam Darcy in the sublime Pride and Prejudice, ultimately causing several million readers to swoon for the character as well.
This three-inch portrait of Irishman Thomas Langlois Lefroy, which comes up for auction in London this month, is thought to be only one of two portraits of "a gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man" as Austen wrote in a letter to her sister, Cassandra.
The portrait was painted in 1798 by George Engleheart two years after the two sweethearts parted. They split ostensibly because Austen, the child of a Hampshire rector, was not nearly of enough means for the law student.
"At length the day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy," she wrote to her sister. "My tears flow as I write at the melacholy idea." Lefroy ultimately married an heiress and became chief justice of Ireland. Austen never saw him again.