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George Romney

Year: 2002, 35 mins
Code: Ill-Romney

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George Romney (1734-1802) was a key figure in British art in the late eighteenth century. A contemporary of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, he was a fashionable, prolific and at times dazzling portrait painter. 

Originally from the Lake District, Romney moved to London in 1762, abandoning his wife in the process. After a visit to Italy, he found numerous patrons attracted by his immaculate draughtsmanship and spontaneous style. Along with the cream of late Georgian society, his sitters included the teenage Emma Hart, with whom Romney was infatuated and who was later to become notorious as Lady Hamilton. At the same time, Romney aspired to create historical and literary scenes infused with imaginative virtuosity and the stirrings of Romantic passion. Towards the end of his life he became disillusioned with portraiture and bitter at what he perceived as the slights of the art establishment. 

Romney's life and art are introduced here by Alex Kidson, Curator of Paintings at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, and organiser of the first ever comprehensive exhibition of the artist's work. Many of Romney's major paintings are illustrated and discussed, including The Leigh Family and The Leveson-Gower Children, as and a remarkable series of large-scale cartoons. Like these striking drawings, well as a number a number of the canvases and drawings not seen in public for generations.

George Romney 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.

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