Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Mr Darcy portrait up for auction

Colin Firth portrait
The portrait is expected to fetch £7,000

A portrait of actor Colin Firth as Mr Darcy is to go under the hammer at a London auction later this month.

The oil painting, together with a signed letter from the star, is expected to raise £7,000 at the Bonhams sale on 21 January.

The portrait was used as a prop in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, in which Firth starred.

Proceeds will be split between Oxfam and the Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group.

The role of Mr Darcy earned Firth his heart-throb status.

The accompanying letter from the star describes the journey the painting undertook to ensure it resembled the actor.

'Slimming down'

"He started life as a much less engaging approximation of an even less engaging photograph," the letter says.

READ THE LETTER

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"If one were to conduct x-rays they would reveal the tortuous and unseemly process of slimming down and redefinition.

"Mr Darcy mark 1 came across as a shabby, insubstantial, derelict looking actor. The likeness was supernatural. I disliked him intensely… as did everyone else.

"A very talented production designer managed to take him on a transformative journey into something bearable… and eventually into someone who could actually pass the audition."

The painting featured in the fourth episode of the BBC series in which Elizabeth Bennett visits Darcy's Pemberly estate and sees it hanging in Pemberly's Great Hall.

Between 10 and 11 million people watched the original six-episode broadcast of Pride and Prejudice on BBC One when it first aired in 1995.



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