- Extended Catalogue Entry
by George Romney
oil on canvas, 1789-1791
59 7/8 in. x 48 in. (1520 mm x 1220 mm)
Artistback to top
- George Romney (1734-1802), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 162 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Ingamells, John, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, 2004, p. 374
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 476
- Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 97, 165 Read entry
Carved and gilt pine, the sub-frame lap jointed as can be seen by the vertical join in the flat frieze, the top mouldings mitred, the scoop water gilt. 5 inches wide. With the label: Saunders,/CARVER, GILDER,/and/PICTURE-FRAME MAKER/No 10/Great Castle Street/Cavendish Square.
This fine neo-classical pattern is found on many of Romney's works of the late 1780s and early 1790s. It was made by Romney's framemaker, William Saunders, who worked at no.10 Great Castle Street, only a few hundred yards from the artist's studio in Cavendish Square. The frame still bears Saunders's trade label with its distinctive cut corners. The portrait was begun in July 1789 for John Law, a close friend of the sitter, the theological writer, William Paley; it was delivered on 24 January 1791 and so the frame may not have been made until 1790 or early in 1791. It has a ribbon-and-reeded sight edge and ribbed top edge, a type much used on Romney's portraits of the period.
Events of 1789back to top
Current affairsGeorge III recovers from the previous year's illness. The 'Regency Crisis' and attendant political wrangling between the Tory Prime Minister William Pitt and the pro-Whig Prince of Wales end. Dismissed as a 'bilious attack', George's sickness was in fact the first sign of the mental health problems which led to the Prince of Wales's appointment as Regent in 1811.
Art and scienceJohn Boydell's ambitious new Shakespeare Gallery opens in Pall Mall, displaying works by Britain's leading artists and attempting to combine urban entertainment with the promotion of British history painting.
Philosopher Jeremy Bentham publishes An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, outlining his 'greatest happiness principle'.
InternationalGeorge Washington is elected first President of the United States.
The French Revolution begins. The storming of the Bastille on the 14 July marks the overthrow of the absolute monarchy in France. The uprising followed the establishment of a governing National Assembly of the people's representatives.