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    Sale 5311

    Old Master & British Pictures & Old Master Drawings

    5 December 2007, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 173

    George Romney (Dalton-in-Furness 1734-1802 Kendal)

    Two studies of heads: Head of Lear; and Head of Cordelia

    Price Realised  


    George Romney (Dalton-in-Furness 1734-1802 Kendal)
    Two studies of heads: Head of Lear; and Head of Cordelia
    oil on canvas, laid down on panel
    6 x 6 3/8 in. (15.2 x 16 cm.)
    a pair (2)

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    The present head studies of King Lear and his daughter Cordelia were executed by Romney as preparatory sketches for his now untraced painting of King Lear awakened by his Daughter Cordelia, c. 1762, a pendant piece to his King Lear in the Tempest tearing off his Robes, won at Romney's lottery at Kendal Town Hall in 1762 by Mrs Robinson of Captain Wilson of Bardsea Hall. Alex Kidson notes that they were the work of 'an ambitious young provincial painter sensing what is in the air - underpinned by a powerful and original vision' and that 'open to question is the degree to which they were 'Romney's imaginative reaction to Shakespeare's text, or his response to a specific and overwhelming experience in the theatre, or his contribution to a tradition in eighteenth-century art of representing King Lear subjects'. (Alex Kidson, George Romney 1734-1802, London, 2002, p.49.).

    In the Reverend John Romney's Memoirs of the Life and Works of George Romney (op. cit.), he describes the present two studies as 'of so clear and and beautiful a tone...that it became a matter of astonishment to me how he could have attained such excellence in so short a time: it seemed to be the result of genius and feeling, almost without the aid of practise'. He described their first owner as Mr Matthew Whitaker, who was 'frequently received at [Romney's house as part of] a small musical party of amateurs'.

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    Matthew Whittaker; and by descent to
    Joseph Whitaker.
    Miss Lee; and by descent to
    Rawden B. Lee; Christie's, London, 14 June, 1901, lot 76 (unsold).
    Sotheby's, London, 1966, lot 72 (where purchased by the present owner).


    Rev. J. Romney, Memoirs of the Life & Works of George Romney, London, 1830, pp. 25-6 & 31-2.
    Humphrey Ward & W. Roberts, Life of Romney, London, 1904, vol. II, p.96.