George Romney (1734-1802), born in Beckside, near Dalton, in Cumberland. He married when he was twenty-two, and in his twenty-seventh year went to London with only thirty pounds in his pocket, leaving his wife with seventy pounds and two young children. He returned home to die in 1799, and in the meantime saw his wife but twice. The year after his arrival in London he carried off the fifty-guinea prize on the subject of the “Death of Wolfe” from the Society of Arts. Through the influence of Sir Joshua Reynolds this was reconsidered, and the fifty-guinea prize was awarded to Mortimer for his “Edward the Confessor,” while Romney was put off with a gratuity of twenty-five guineas. This produced a feud between the two artists. Romney showed his resentment by exhibiting in a house in Spring Gardens, and never sending a picture to the Academy, while Reynolds would not so much as mention his name, but spoke of him as “the man in Cavendish Square.” This was after his return from the Continent; but before going to Italy he was distinctly the rival of Sir Joshua, so much so that there were two factions, and Romney’s studio, in Great Newport Street, was crowded with sitters, among whom was the famous Lord Chancellor Thurlow, whose full-length portrait is the pride of its possessor. At this time he was making about twelve hundred pounds a year, a very good income for those days. In 1773 he went to Rome with a letter to the Pope from the Duke of Richmond. His diary, which he kept for a friend, shows how conscientious and close was his observation and how great his zeal. He made a copy of the “Transfiguration,” for which he refused one hundred guineas, and which finally sold for six guineas after his death. On his return to London in 1775 he took the house in Cavendish Square, where he had great success. He painted a series of portraits of the Gower family, the largest being a group of children dancing, which Allan Cunningham commended as being “masterly and graceful.” Some of his portraits have a charm beyond his rivals. He painted portraits of Lady Hamilton, the friend of Lord Nelson—“the maid of all work, model, mistress, ambassadress, and pauper”—scores of times, and in different attitudes and a variety of characters, as Hebe, a Bacchante, a Sibyl, as Joan of Arc, as “Sensibility,” as a St. Cecilia, as Cassandra, as Iphigenia, as Constance, as Calypso, as Circe, and as Mary Magdalen, and in some of these characters many times. He often worked thirteen hours a day, and did his fancy sketches when sitters disappointed him. He would paint a portrait of a gentleman in four sittings. He was extremely fond of portraying Shakespeare’s characters, and contributed to the Shakespeare Gallery formed by Alderman Boydell. He went to Paris in 1790, where Lord and Lady Gower introduced him to Louis Philippe, and through him to all the art treasures of the French capital. On his return to London he formed a plan of an art museum, to be furnished with casts of the finest statues in Rome, and spent a good deal of money in the erection of a large building for the purpose. His powers as an artist gradually waned. He left his Cavendish Square residence in 1797, and in 1799 returned to his family and home at Kendall. From this time to the close of his life in 1802 he was a mere wreck, and his artist life was over.

George Morland (1763-1804) was born in London, and the son of an artist. His father was unsuccessful, and poor George was articled to his father, after the English fashion, and was kept close at home and at work. It is said that his father stimulated him with rich food and drink to coax him to work. He was very precocious, and really had unusual talents. His subjects were those of rustic life, and his pictures contain animals wonderfully well painted, but his pigs surpass all. His character was pitiful; he was simply, at his best, a mere machine to make pictures. As for goodness, truth, or nobleness of any sort, there is not a syllable recorded in his favor. Strange to say, the pictures of his best time are masterpieces in their way, and have been sold at large prices.