From The Times
Today, a handful of die-hard fans were engaged in a bitter bidding war to own a piece of the smouldering aristocrat who won the hearts of millions in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.
A portrait of Firth as Mr Darcy, which hung in the character’s fictional mansion in the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, was finally auctioned for £12,000 at Bonhams today, double its estimated price. The oil painting, which shows the actor gazing soulfully through the canvas in full period costume, featured in the fourth episode of the drama in which Elizabeth visits Darcy’s ravishing country estate, Pemberley.
It was accompanied at auction by a signed letter from Firth, who sent women nationwide into a collective swoon when he emerged from a lake tousled and dripping in a wet shirt during the same episode.
The actor wrote: “The painting was basically a bit part player in episode four of the BBC’s 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice.
“Looking at him now I would say he has weathered better than most of us. In fact, he is the only character you can meet in person who looks precisely as he did the day he was filmed.
“Whatever you think of him today, you can consider yourselves fortunate to have been spared his earliest incarnation. Mr Darcy Mark 1 came across as a shabby, insubstantial, derelict-looking actor.”
The so called “wet shirt scene”, which comes just after Elizabeth is shown gazing dreamily at the portrait hanging in Pemberley’s Great Hall, is credited with being one of the most unforgettable moments in British TV history.
The painting sold for twice the estimated amount, and proceeds were donated to charity.
You can see the $16,500 portrait in my friend Sooth's Pride and Prejudice fan video set to the song Eden. One of my all time favorites that I love to watch on my iPod.