\’Mr Darcy\’ portrait sells for $25,000

It\’s an image that made generations of women swoon – and Colin Firth is still attracting the ladies with his portrayal of Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

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A portrait of the British actor as Darcy has fetched STG12,000 ($A25,000) at auction, twice the expected price.

Auction house Bonhams said the portrait, used in the hit 1995 BBC television adaptation of Jane Austen\’s 1813 novel, was bought by a woman bidder who wished to remain anonymous at its Gentleman\’s Library sale.

Firth\’s rise to fame

The pre-sale estimate for the painting had been STG5,000-6,000 ($A10,500-12,600).

Firth rose to fame after his role in the six-part series, not least for the iconic scene where Darcy emerges from the lake at his Pemberley estate dripping wet in a white linen shirt to face an awkward encounter with fellow protagonist Elizabeth Bennet.

A signed letter by Firth accompanied the portrait.

“Looking at him now I would say he has weathered better than most of us,” Firth wrote.

“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 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.”

\’Lake episode\’ featured

The painting features in the fourth episode of the series, which is also the “lake” episode.

Elizabeth visits Pemberley and is shown gazing admiringly at the portrait in the estate\’s great hall.

Darcy, meanwhile, decides to refresh himself after his unannounced arrival at Pemberley by diving into the lake. He then bumps into Elizabeth.

Proceeds from the sale of the portrait will be shared between Oxfam and the Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group.