Self Portrait, 1795
(December 26, 1734 - November 15,
1802) was an English portrait painter. He was the most fashionable artist of
his day, painting many leading society figures - including his artistic muse,
Emma Hamilton, mistress of Lord Nelson.
In his portraits Romney avoided delving into the character or sensibilities of the sitter. His great success with his society patrons depended largely on
just this ability for dispassionate flattery. Line rather than colour dominates; the flowing rhythms and easy poses of Roman classical sculpture underlie
the smooth patterns of his compositions.
From 1755 to 1757, Romney was the pupil of Christopher Steele, an itinerant
portrait and genre painter. Romney's career began when he toured the northern
English counties painting portraits for a few guineas each. In 1762 he went
to London. His history painting The Death of General Wolfe won him an award
from the Society of Arts; nonetheless he turned almost immediately to portrait
painting. In 1764 he paid his first visit to Paris, where he was befriended
by Joseph Vernet.
Romney especially admired the work of Nicolas Le Sueur, whose
use of the antique strongly appealed to him. In 1773 he went to Italy for two
years, where he studied Raphael's Stanze frescoes in Rome, Titian's paintings
in Venice, and Correggio's at Parma. Travel abroad matured his art, and a new
gracefulness appears in portraits such as Mrs. Carwardine and Son (1775) and
the conscious elegance of the large full-length Sir Christopher and Lady Sykes
Romney was by nature sensitive and introspective. He held himself aloof from the Royal Academy and his fellow artists, making his friends in philosophical
and literary circles. About 1781-82 he met Emma Hart (later Lady Hamilton), who fascinated him. For Romney she became a means of escape into an imaginary,
ideal world. He painted his "divine Emma" more than 50 times, in guises ranging from a bacchante to Joan of Arc.
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George Romney, 1734-1802
by Alex Kidson – Hardcover: 256 pages; Princeton University Press; 1st edition (Mar 11, 2002)
Alex Kidson's excellent catalogue will no doubt set the standard for Romney scholarship for years to come. Its importance can scarcely be overestimated. Kidson has unearthed lost paintings and discovered unfamiliar drawings in little known private collections. He has presented many fresh ideas, corrected numerous errors in attribution, and revealed the present location of works. All of this provides invaluable, updated information. --Yvonne Dixon, Trinity College, Washington, D.C.
George Romney: 215 Plates
by Maria Peitcheva (Author) – Paperback: 60 pages; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (Jan 20, 2016)
George Romney (1734 – 1802) was an English portrait painter. He was the most fashionable artist of his day, painting many leading society figures – including his artistic muse, Emma Hamilton, mistress of Lord Nelson. Romney is generally ranked third in the hierarchy of 18th-century society portrait painters, after Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. His art is characterized by great refinement, sensitivity of feeling, elegance of design and beauty of color. Romney was a prolific painter and produced about 2,000 paintings and 5,000 drawings during his lifetime.
A Striking Likeness: The Life of George Romney
by Mr David A Cross – Hardcover: 272 pages; Lund Humphries (Apr 28, 2000)
In their stunning simplicity, George Romney’s portraits of eighteenth-century gentry and their children are among the most widely recognised creations of his age. A rival to Reynolds and Gainsborough, Romney was born in 1734 on the edge of the Lake District, the landscape of which never ceased to influence his eye for composition and colour. He moved in 1762 to London where there was an insatiable market for portraits of the landed gentry to fill the elegant picture galleries of their country houses.
Romney’s sitters included William Beckford and Emma Hart, later Lady Hamilton.An influential figure, one of the founding fathers of neo-classicism and a harbinger of romanticism, Romney yearned to develop his talents as a history painter. Countless drawings bear witness to ambitious projects on elemental themes which were rarely executed on canvas. Richly illustrated, this is the first biography of Romney to explore the full diversity of his oeuvre. David A. Cross portays a complex personality, prone to melancholy, who held himself aloof from London’s Establishment and from the Royal Academy, of which Sir Joshua Reynolds was President, and chose instead to find his friends among that city’s radical intelligentsia.
George Romney: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings
by Alex Kidson – Hardcover: 960 pages; Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art; Slipcase edition (Sep 11, 2015)
The product of impressive and thorough research undertaken over the course of 20 years, Alex Kidson asserts Romney’s status as one of the greatest British painters, whose last catalogue raisonné was published over 100 years ago. In more than 1,800 entries, many supported by new photography, Kidson aims to solve longstanding issues of attribution, distinguishing genuine pictures by Romney from works whose traditional attribution to him can no longer be supported. The author’s insights are guided by rich primary source material on Romney—including account books, ledgers, and sketchbooks—as well as secondary sources such as prints after lost works, newspaper reports and reviews, and writings by Romney’s contemporaries.
George Romney: Drawings & Paintings
by Raya Yotova – Paperback: 90 pages; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (Dec 1, 2017)
George Romney was the most fashionable artist of his day, painting many leading society figures – including his artistic muse, Emma Hamilton, mistress of Lord Nelson. Despite his later success, Romney was never invited to join the Royal Academy of Arts, though he was asked, urged even, to exhibit there – nor did he ever apply to join. By 1772 Romney was financially secure enough to make the journey to Italy to study the great artists of the past, as he had always intended. He set off in March, making his way through Europe via Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Nice, Genoa, Livorno, Florence and Pisa and arriving in Rome in June.
George Romney: Masterpieces in Colour
by Maria Tsaneva – Paperback: 40 pages; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (Mar 14, 2015)
Romney was a prolific painter and produced about 2,000 paintings and 5,000 drawings during his lifetime. He was the most fashionable artist of his day, painting many leading society figures – including his artistic muse, Emma Hamilton,
George Romney: His Palette
by Arron Adams – Paperback: 48 pages; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (Apr 25, 2016)
Art and Celebrity in the Age of Reynolds and Siddons
by Heather McPherson – Hardcover: 272 pages; Penn State University Press; 1st edition (Jan 19, 2017)
In this volume, Heather McPherson examines the connections among portraiture, theater, the visual arts, and fame to shed light on the emergence of modern celebrity culture in eighteenth-century England.