There have been many more books on Romney than those listed here, but the following are the backbone of Romney historiography from the artist’s lifetime to the present day:
William Hayley: The Life of George Romney Esq
John Romney: Memoir of the Life and Works of George Romney
These are the two chief early sources for Romney’s life, and complement each other. Hayley’s is a subjective, partial and irritating account but contains many personal insights. John Romney, the artist’s son, wrote his memoir as a rebuttal of Hayley’s book which he found inaccurate and offensive. It is more objective, scholarly and informative, but is also hagiographic, smoothing out some of the oddities of Romney’s character that Hayley preserves. Both are vital.
Hilda Gamlin; George Romney
T. H. Ward and William Roberts: Romney: Essay and Catalogue Raisonné
(2 vols, London and New York, 1904)
Arthur Chamberlain: George Romney
These are the three most significant of the many books published in the ‘Duveen era’, the term sometimes used to describe the late Victorian and Edwardian fascination for Georgian portraiture. Gamlin’s is a popular professional biography typical of its time, readable and surprisingly sharp. Ward and Roberts took the study of Romney onto a new level through the first serious complete catalogue of his works. It was the product of ten years’ labour and met the highest art-historical standards of its day. Chamberlain’s book represented a worthy but slightly suffocating attempt to rehearse and where appropriate correct every known Romney fact only six years after Ward and Roberts’s book had appeared. Among its strengths are a catalogue of ‘modern’, i.e. Victorian prints after Romney’s works, a good index and a quite imaginative set of illustrations.
M. H. Spielmann: British Portrait Painting to the Opening of the Nineteenth Century
Ellis Waterhouse: Painting in Britain 1530-1790
These two surveys of British art, containing brief passages on Romney, witness reaction setting in against him. Waterhouse’s view of Romney as the equivalent of a society photographer was predominant among British art historians during much of the 20th century.
Elizabeth Johnston, ed: George Romney: Paintings and Drawings
Catalogue of the exhibition held at Kenwood House in 1961, chiefly notable for the revisionist image of Romney established through the selection of works.
Gerhard Charles Rump: George Romney: Zur Bildform der Bürgerliche Mitte in der Englischen Neo-klassik
[George Romney: towards middle-class pictorial form in English neo-classicism] (2 vols, Hildesheim, 1974)
In German, based on a university thesis. Its Marxist-derived theoretical argument re-contextualized Romney from a European perspective.
Jennifer Watson: Romney in Canada
Very thorough and well-informed catalogue of an exhibition of works by Romney in Canadian collections, containing the fruit of much wider research on the artist.
Romney Paintings in Public Collections
by Barry Maclean Eltham (founder of the Society) 1996 see Society Publications for sale.
Yvonne Romney Dixon: Designs From Fancy: George Romney’s Shakespearean Drawings
(Washington D.C., 1998)
Authoritative and well-illustrated catalogue of a rich selection from one of the world’s great Romney collections, the Folger Shakespeare Library. Based on the author’s earlier Ph.D thesis for the University of Maryland (1977), which contained a full catalogue of the Folger’s Romney drawings.
David A. Cross: A Striking Likeness: The Life of George Romney
The first major biography of Romney since 1910, containing many new facts as well as new interpretations of aspects of the artist’s character, personality and art; well-illustrated.
Alex Kidson: George Romney 1734-1802
(London and Princeton, 2002)
Alex Kidson, ed: Those Delightful Regions of Imagination: Essays on George Romney
(New Haven and London, 2002)
These two publications co-incided with the major exhibition held in Liverpool, London and Los Angeles to mark the bi-centenary of Romney’s death. The first was the exhibition’s catalogue, and comprised a critical introduction to Romney’s art, entries on the 146 exhibits, and colour illustrations. The second was a volume of essays by a range of writers on late 18th century British culture. It included an up-to-date catalogue, by David Alexander, of prints after Romney’s work issued during his lifetime.
Yvonne Romney Dixon and Alex Kidson: Romney Sketchbooks in Public Collections
This is Volume 8 in the annual Transactions of the Romney Society. It catalogues the 57 sketchbooks by Romney then known to be in public collections world-wide. The first ever survey dedicated to the sketchbooks. See Society Publications for sale
Martin Orrom, ed: The Life and Times of George Romney
A survey based around the works by, after, and relating to Romney in the collection of Kendal Town Council; offers a fresh perspective on the life of the most important artist to work in the town.
Suzanne E. May: Sublime and Infernal Reveries: George Romney and the Creation of an 18th-century Painter
(2 vols, Liverpool, 2007)
Unpublished PhD thesis for Liverpool John Moores University; a major revisionist view of Romney from the perspective of the Renaissance humanist tradition of poet-artist relationships. Romney’s exchanges with literary friends and advisers provide the thread for an in-depth consideration of his historical compositions.
Yvonne Romney Dixon: The Kendal Sketchbook 1763-71
(2 vols, Kendal, 2010)
This is Volume 15 of the annual Transactions of the Romney Society: a two volume publication comprising a facsimile of the sketchbook and a commentary by Dr Yvonne Romney Dixon with colour illustrations; see Society Publications for sale.
Find out more:
Most of these works can be seen in Kendal by appointment with the Society.
King Lear in the Tempest. Kendal Town Council
Study for Miss Woodley. Kendal Town Council
Lady Hamilton as Miranda. Private collection, UK, on loan to Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal
Charles Strickland Fishing. Private collection UK
Sir William Hamilton. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Mrs Carwardine and son. Private collection USA
Flaxman modelling the bust of Hayley. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven