The museum inside Charles Dickens London home is reopening after its virus lockdown, with a new exhibition that will include eight newly colourised portraits.

Although in our heads we know that Victorian London was richly decorated, as most photographs are B&W, it can fell oddly shocking to see people we think we are familiar with – shown in full colour.

The exhibition, Technicolour Dickens: The Living Image of Charles Dickens shows how images of Dickens were consumed and circulated as soon as he found fame, throughout his career and after his death. It will bring together a dizzying array of depictions of Dickens, as well as clothing, personal items and descriptions by those who knew and saw him.

A star exhibit will be a black silk grosgrain waistcoat made in 1860 and worn by Dickens. This item is held in a private collection and has not been on public display for over 100 years.

Laid out throughout the Dickens family home, the exhibition will present images of Dickens from the earliest painting of the author at the age of 18 to the final, posthumous, drawing by John Everett Millais, created the day after Dickens’s death.

Unfinished drawing of Charles Dickens in chalk and pastels by Samuel Laurence. (c) Charles Dickens Museum

In addition, eight photographs were selected for colourisation. The Museum researched the details of each original portrait session, the clothes and accessories chosen by Dickens for each and the objects included in the original photographs. The process also involved photography and study of the complexion and skin tone of two of Dickens’s great-great grandsons, Gerald Dickens and Mark Dickens, in conditions akin to the original photography sessions to ensure that the colourisation is as accurate as possible.

Frankie Kubicki, curator at the Charles Dickens Museum, said, “We aim to present an image of Dickens that the public have never seen before. Dickens adored fashion and Technicolour Dickens will highlight his personal style and often daring fashion tastes.”

The Charles Dickens Museum reopens on 25th July – and prebooking is required.

 

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