The watercolour, commissioned more than 50 years after Austen's death, is considered the best likeness of her
Sotheby's has sold a watercolour portrait of Jane Austen which is widely acknowledged as the closest likeness of her there is.
The portrait sold for £135,000, or £164,500 including buyer's commission. The original estimate had been £150,000-£200,000.
The portrait was commissioned by the writer's nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, a vicar of Bray, in 1869, more than 50 years after her death. It is based on a not terribly accomplished sketch drawn by that Austen's sister Cassandra drew.
The portrait has been reproduced innumerable times and an engraving of it will be used on the £10 note. Before its sale it had been passed down through the Austen family.
The portrait is not to everyone's taste. Paula Byrne, an Austen biographer, called it a "Victorian airbrushing".
The novelist Joanna Trollope disagrees. She said: "This portrait was commissioned half a century after Jane Austen's death, so it can hardly be claimed as a life likeness. All the same, it is all we have, and it has a lack of pretension that suits our first properly acclaimed great woman novelist."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010