Mary-Shelley—Richard-Rothwell

Portrait of Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell (1840)

Surely, Rothwell exaggerated the height of her forehead, the size of her eyes, the length of her acquiline nose, the smooth grace of her shoulders. But what grabs my attention immediately is that sweet half smile. It is, as Kenneth Clark observed (of Houdon’s bust of Voltaire), the ‘smile of reason’. But so much more attractive on Mary.