chapter  1
18 Pages

From woodcarver to portraitist 1734–62

WithDavid A. Cross

At Beckside, on the eastern side of the town, stood the family farm where George Romney was born on 15 December 1734, in the eighth year of the reign of George II. The Romneys had come from Colby, near Appleby in the north of Cumbria, where the artist’s grandfather, also George Romney, had been born to a family of ‘statesmen’ or independent yeoman farmers. At last, in July 1757, Romney was able to return home. Terminally frustrated by his master’s cavalier attitude to the apprenticeship, he arranged to break the indentures in exchange for the cancellation of a ten pound debt. Having declared sincerely that Romney would ‘do wonders’, Steele immediately fled to Dublin. Memories of Windermere another lottery picture, is Romney’s only surviving landscape in oils. Depicting the artist, Molly, Adam Walker, his wife Eleanor and brother Tom crossing the lake for a picnic party, is dated c.1761.