George Romney, 1734-1802

Overview

This handsome catalogue, which accompanies a major international exhibition commemorating the bicentennial of George Romney's death, offers the first in-depth modern overview of a key figure in eighteenth-century British art. Romney was the main rival of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough--and for much of his career more fashionable than either. A century ago, collectors fought to buy the portraits he created with a distinctive mix of elegance, mannerism, and informality; especially popular were those of...

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Overview

This handsome catalogue, which accompanies a major international exhibition commemorating the bicentennial of George Romney's death, offers the first in-depth modern overview of a key figure in eighteenth-century British art. Romney was the main rival of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough--and for much of his career more fashionable than either. A century ago, collectors fought to buy the portraits he created with a distinctive mix of elegance, mannerism, and informality; especially popular were those of Emma Hart (later the notorious Lady Hamilton), who became his favorite model and muse. Romney's chief ambition, however, was to succeed as a history painter, and he made countless drawings for literary and mythological pictures that he never had time to paint. These drawings, executed with a spontaneity and dramatic expressiveness that have appealed to many modern artists, mark Romney as one of the first Romantics.

Reproducing over two hundred works, this is the most generously illustrated volume on Romney to date. In a major departure from earlier treatments, the book devotes equal attention to his drawings and his paintings, persuasively demonstrating how interdependent the two media were in his art. Alex Kidson has written an invitingly personal, intriguingly speculative text, in which Romney emerges as one of the most brilliant and inventive artists of his time. From now on, any serious consideration of his work must begin with this book.

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE

The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

February 8, 2002-April 21, 2002

The National Portrait Gallery, London

May 30, 2002-August 18, 2002

The Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino, California

September 15, 2002-December 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Kidson has succeeded in achieving the aims he explicitly states in his introduction. He wants both to restore the stature of the misunderstood and ignored Romney to his rightful position as a leading British artist of the 18th century and to outline the scope of his achievements. . . . His comments on each work in the catalog are extensive and illuminating. The reproductions are good and the bibliography extensive.
New York Review of Books
George Romney once belonged, as Alex Kidson reminds us . . to the foremost ranks of blue-chip artists. . . . Romney was a complex man. . . . Alex Kidson set out to show Romney whole, and [his efforts] seem to me exemplary in this attempt.
— James Fenton
Virginia Quarterly Review
George Romney is possibly the most unappreciated British painter of the 18th century . . . . [He] hoped to be known as a painter of historical and literary scenes. Kidson highlights these works as early examples of Romantic art. Kidson's notes are lucid and his scholarship first-rate, and the reproductions are of excellent quality.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691095592
  • Publisher: National Portrait Gallery, London
  • Publication date: 2/19/2002
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 11.38 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Table of Contents


DIRECTORS' FOREWORD vi

CURATOR'S PREFACE viii

George Romney: An Introduction xii

Catalog 40

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY 234

PICTURE CREDITS 240

INDEX 241

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Recipe

"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.

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