George Romney was born in Kendal, Lancashire during 1734. His father was a cabinetmaker. Romney studied under portrait artist, Christopher Steele. Romney began his career traveling and painting portraits. He was sucessful and acquired a modest reputation in provincial towns. This gave him the money to travel to Italy where he could study both Classical and Renaissance works. Upon returning to England, Romney renwed his career in London, not only the capital but a lively cosmopolitan city which was where an artist could show off his work (1762). He did many wonderful portrairs. He desired to expand his body of wotk by painting historical works. He was never very successful with this. His work began to decline after meeting Emma Hart (1781). He became obseessed with Emma and painted numerous portraits of her. As a result, he had less time for commisions and his careet suffered. He eventually retuned to Kendal where he descended into mental illness. He left us, however, many notable portraits.
George Romney's father was a cabinetmaker.
George was born in Kendal, Lancashire during 1734. He grew up in a large family of 11 children. George worked in his father's shop from about age 10 years.
George's father noticed the boys interest un drawing. He apprenticed to Work under portrait artist, Christopher Steele, a local itinerant portraitist. Here he developed his drawing skills as well as leared how to prepare oil paint, both the colors and the mixing.
Romney married Mary (Molly) Abbott (1756). His son John was born (1757).
Romney breaks his appreticeship and began his own career (1757). He began following the pattern he learned from Steele. He traveled and painted portraits in the north counties (Lancashire, Yorkshire, and others). He began by charging a very modest fee--a few guineas for a portrait. (A guinea at the time was a gold coin. The term derives from the fact that what is now Guinea in West Africa was a source of gold.) He was sucessful and acquired a modest reputation in provincial towns. A major step was painting members of two prominent Lakeland families (1759-60). This gave him the money to travel to Italy where he could study both Classical and Renaissance works. Upon returning to England, Romney renwed his career in London (1762). London was not only the capital but a lively cosmopolitan city, the cultural capital of the country. Here an artist could show off his work.
Romney after settling in London (1762), quickly established himself as a gifted portraitist. He won favor among wealthy society patrons. His success depended in part on his willingness to flatter his clients in the likenesses.
He did many wonderful portrairs, leaving us an invaluable record of London society in the 1760s and 70s which added to his earlier work in the north. Art critics in assessing Romney's style comment that he avoided any attempt at painting in character assessments. His genius was with line more than color. He often has his subjects strike classical poses. He desired to expand his body of wotk by painting historical works and completed a few such works. He was awarded a prize by the Free Society for his ‘The Death of General Wolfe’ (1763). He was never very successful with his historical work. It is not clear if his talent was lacking. It is more likely that he did not devote sufficient effort because of his growing obsession with Emma Hart. Assessments of Romney have varied. Romney's place in British art declined in the 19th century. Modern critics generall rank him along with Reynolds and Gainsborough as the greats of late-18th century British portraiture. [Watson]
Romney's work began to decline after meeting Emma Hart (1781). Readers may not recognize the name, but she was the future Lady Hamilton that naval Hero Lord Nelson later became enfactuated with. Romney became obseessed with Emma and painted numerous portraits of her--more than 50 such images. As a result, he had less time for commisions and his career suffered.
Romney eventually retuned to Kendal where he descended into mental illness. He died (1802). He left us, however, many notable period portraits.
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