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.