George Romney Galleries
By 1757 he was becoming well-known as a portraitist. He fell ill during his apprenticeship and was nursed back to health by Mary Abbott, daughter of his landlady.
In 1762, by which time he was married with two children, he went to London, and saw early success with a painting, The Death of General Wolfe which won a prize from the Royal Society of Arts. Romney soon had a thriving portrait business in Long Acre.
Despite his great success George Romney was never invited to join the Royal Academy nor did he ever apply to join. While there has been much speculation about his relationship with the Academy there is no doubt that he normally remained aloof maintaining that a good artist should succeed without being a member. His own career certainly supported this belief and it was only towards the end of his life that he expressed the slightest regret for his views
Portrait of Miss Juliana Willoughby, 1781-83 (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC)
Emma Hamilton as a bacchante by George Romney, 1785In 1773 he travelled to Italy with fellow artist Ozias Humphrey to study art in Rome and Parma, returning to London in 1775 to resume business, this time in Cavendish Square (in a house formerly owned by noted portraitist Francis Cotes). In 1782 he met Emma Hamilton (then called Emma Hart) who became his muse. He painted over 60 portraits of her in various poses, sometimes playing the part of historical or mythological figures. He also painted many other contemporaries, including fellow artist Mary Moser. After an absence of almost forty years, he returned to his family in Kendal in the summer of 1799. He was greeted by his loyal, devoted and unquestioning wife. George Romney is a kinsman of Mitt Romney, U.S politician.