George Romney (British, Beckside, Lancashire 1734–1802 Kendal, Cumbria)
Oil on canvas
30 x 24 3/4 in. (76.2 x 62.9 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin C. Vogel, 1950
Not on view
The costume, a white linen shirt, cravat, and vest, and a brown coat with gold braid and gilt buttons, suggests a possible date, but the sitter's identity may never be known. The dark background adds a sense of gravity.
According to information provided in 1931 by the New York art-dealing firm Scott & Fowles, the scholar William Roberts identified the sitter for this portrait as the Honorable Charles Francis Greville (1749–1809), second son of the first Earl of Warwick. Charles Greville apparently sat for Romney in 1781–82 and again in 1787, either of which would be possible dates for the present work (T. Humphry Ward and W. Roberts, Romney: A Biographical and Critical Essay, with a Catalogue Raisonné of His Works, London, 1904, vol. 2, pp. 65–66); however, this sitter is not he. Greville is the subject of an 1810 mezzotint by Henry Hoppner Meyer after Romney (Baetjer 2009, p. 126, fig. 92). As Kim Sloan noted in 1996, there is little resemblance to the sitter in the Museum’s portrait. Greville had deep-set eyes under thick brows, a slightly hooked, more pointed nose, and an intent expression. The sitter here is probably younger, with a broader, less angular face. Typically for Romney, especially in paintings of men in this rather standard format, the treatment of the arms is perfunctory.
[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
[Scott & Fowles, New York, until 1929]; Mr. and Mrs. Edwin C. Vogel, New York (1929–50, as Hon. Charles Francis Greville)
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "Reports of the Departments: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 10 (Summer 1951), p. 30, as Hon. Charles Francis Greville.
Barry Maclean-Eltham. George Romney: Paintings in Public Collections. Kendal, England, 1996, p. 31, as Greville.
Ian Jenkins and Kim Sloan. Vases & Volcanoes: Sir William Hamilton and His Collection. Exh. cat., British Museum. London, 1996, p. 174, point out that the portrait on which Henry Meyer's 1810 mezzotint of Greville was based is not this one.
Katharine Baetjer. "British Portraits in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Summer 1999), pp. 47–48, ill. (color), explains that on the basis of comparison with the portrait of Greville by Romney which was engraved in mezzotint by Meyer in 1810, the sitter here cannot be he, and dates this portrait of an unidentified man about 1780.
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 126–28, no. 56, ill. (color).
Alex Kidson. George Romney: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings. New Haven, 2015, vol. 1, p. 255; vol. 3, p. 719, no. 1569, ill. (color).