Largely self-taught, Romney began to take painting classes only in 1755 — and in 1762 moved to London and quickly gained widespread popularity, which began with the award of the Royal Academy of arts the painting «Death of General Wolfe» (which later eclipsed by the famous Benjamin West painting of the same story). 1773−1775 Romney together with Asiacom Humphrey spent in Rome and Parma, and on his return opened a Studio in Cavendish square and was once again a great success. In 1782 George Romney met Emma HART, which was to become lady Hamilton, and she became his Muse
This gloomy, silent villager who worked at night over a bulky «heroic stories," had the rare ability to transmit in his portraits the charm of the human face with such ease and brilliance that clientele Reynolds began to noticeably diminish. «Man of Avendesora"-commented Reynolds on Romney, without condescending to call him by his name.
Romney worked in a manner close to Reynolds, which has practically monopolized portrait painting of England from the second half of the eighteenth century, only brush Romney was lighter and more agile. He did not aim to analyze seriously the characters are portrayed and create artworks significant, and deep in his portraits captured the momentary mood of the person, they are filled with the living, the immediate feeling; and yet, Romney was able slightly to flatter your model, so it is not surprising that its popularity has grown so rapidly, especially among the beautiful half of humanity.
However, the descendants of the judged otherwise. Portrait painting in England of the XVIII century mark two great figures — Gainsborough and Reynolds. Romney, of course, had no power of their talent, however, indisputable talent, artistry and strong personality of the artist earned him a worthy place in the history of portraiture.
Almost Romney received no education. He was the son of a cabinetmaker, his school progress was so insignificant that the father without thinking put an end to this senseless waste of money and time and began to teach his son his craft. Often subsequently incredible spelling mistakes Romney cited the amazement of its recipients. My father taught Romney to do the violin, say, the passion for music was in the artist’s life the second place after painting. Artistic talent Romney started early: he is an amazing likeness painted portraits who worked in his father’s workshop apprentices. One of the assistants of the father, different artistic tendencies, wrote a monthly illustrated magazine, the prints of which copied the young Romney. Only at the age of 21 he began to study painting from a visiting portrait painter Christopher Style, some time working in Paris with Jean Baptiste vanloo. The apprenticeship lasted four years. Then for several years Romney worked independently as a portrait painter, serving Kendal and the surrounding counties of Lancaster and York.
Twenty-seven years, leaving a wife and two children, Romney goes to London in search of happiness.
In the middle of the century in England there were over two thousand of artists-portraitists, and, of course, most of them lived in London. It was necessary to have a remarkable talent to achieve the popularity and recognition, which very quickly made Romney.
In 1775, Romney rents a large house on Calendarstore. Here were the most brilliant and happiest years of his life. Like Reynolds, he starts a diary, in which carefully records the names of all their customers. Less than twenty years his shop has been more than nine thousand «models," among them met such famous names as Edmund Burke is a philosopher; Thurlow, historian; Sarah Siddons and Garrick, the famous tragic actor; the artist, poet and thinker William Blake; Sheridan; the scientist Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin, and an infinite variety of the most charming women in England. We can say that the vast majority of the richest, famous and important personalities who lived in England in the second half of the eighteenth century, did not fail to attend the workshop Romney.
Its somewhat haphazard art education Romney was completed in 1773. This year has carried out his trip to Italy, without which no painter of the eighteenth century could not rely on the title of a professional. Stay in Italy affected that Romney, more than any of his contemporaries, was committed to the classicism manifested in the love of the painter to the balanced composition, smooth rhythm, clean contours, in his predilection for local and clear color combinations. In Parma the artist drew Correggio, and Rome shook his sculpture. Later, Romney will gather a small collection of the stunning casts of sculpture «Laocoon," the «Apollo Belvedere», etc. and put them in one of the rooms of his large house.
Neither biographer and scholar Romney is not silent is significant for the artist’s meeting with his future «Muse"-the famous adventuress lady Hamilton. This unusual woman-the daughter of a blacksmith began his brilliant career with the role of a maid in wealthy English houses, passing from hand to hand, was kidnapped by Charles Greville and lived under his patronage, married his uncle, the famous sir William Hamilton, participated in various political plots and intrigues, famous throughout the world as the lover of Admiral Nelson and died in exile in Calais, where she was buried on a «compassionate English lady.»
When Emma HART was the name of the future lady Hamilton, for the first time crossed the threshold of his Studio Romney-he was about fifty, nineteen. It so exactly matched his plastic ideal of female beauty, which for many years became a major figure in his work. He wrote and painted her in the role of Cassandra, Calypso, and Magdalene, or simply the way it was in modest casual dress, calmly sitting in front of the painter, as the portrait of 1783. Her last semi-figured portrait refers to 1791. This year she married William Hamilton and disappeared from the life of the artist, to go to Naples. From that time the decline begins in the work of Romney. However, he sometimes creates such wonderful works, as a self-portrait, 1782. The unfinished nature of the portrait, allowing you to concentrate on great written head, only emphasizes rare for Romney, the psychological characteristics and the complex condition of mind in which the artist resided the last years of his life.
In 1797 Romney moved into a new house in Hampstead, he himself constructed. He almost refuses to portraiture and, yielding to the romantic spirit of the English painting of the late XVIII century, totally immersed in the execution of large and complex compositions based on the works of Shakespeare and Milton. These flimsy compositions were given to him with difficulty, and, as often happens, them he valued the most, considering their portraits are merely a means to earn a living. But it is the portraits of the artist, their live, spontaneous charm caused the descendants to love the art of Romney. Today, no Museum does not consider his collection complete without portraits of Romney. The Hermitage possesses several works, including a strict and expressive portrait of S. R. Vorontsov, the Russian Ambassador in England, and exquisite charming portrait of Mrs. Harriet Greer.
Stay Romney in the new house was not long — exacerbated chronic illness of the artist, tormented him all his life. Frequent bouts of depression, fear and anger make Romney in 1799 to return to his hometown for his wife waited for him for almost forty years. It arrives completely broken and sick, not able to work or think. She faithfully cares for him and after three years, burying her husband at the local Church cemetery.