George Romney, R.A. (Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire 1734-1802 Kendal, Cumbria)
George Romney, R.A. (Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire 1734-1802 Kendal, Cumbria)

Portrait of Mrs Mary Moody (c. 1767-1820), wife of Samuel Moody, three-quarter-length, in a landscape

George Romney, R.A. (Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire 1734-1802 Kendal, Cumbria)
Portrait of Mrs Mary Moody (c. 1767-1820), wife of Samuel Moody, three-quarter-length, in a landscape
oil on canvas
50 ¼ x 40 ¼ in. (127.5 x 102.2 cm.)
Commissioned from the artist by the sitter's husband, Samuel Moody (1733-1808).
J.L. Rutley; Christie's, London, 3 July 1875, lot 71 (180 gns. to Graves).
W.S. Stirling Crawfurd (d. 1874) and by inheritance to his wife,
Caroline, Duchess of Montrose (1818-1894); (†), Christie's, London, 14 July 1894, lot 37 (400 gns. to Mrs. John Gardner).
George R. Batch.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 17 November 1976, lot 122.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 22 November 1985, lot 130.
Lex Aiken and Alfredo Bouret Gonzalez, Sydney, Australia; Christie's, London, 4 June 2014, lot 88 (£100,900).
H. Gamlin, George Romney and His Art, London, 1894, pp. 203-4.
Sir H. Maxwell, George Romney, London, 1902, p. 184, no. 276.
G. Paston, George Romney, London, 1903, p. 196.
H. Ward and W. Roberts, Romney: A Biographical and Critical Essay with a Catalogue Raisonné of his Works, New York, 1904, II, p. 108.
A. Kidson, George Romney: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, New Haven and London, 2015, II, pp. 415-416, no. 911, illustrated.
London, Burlington House, Old Masters Exhibition, 1882, no. 38 (lent by W.S. Stirling Crawfurd).
London, Grafton Gallery, Fair Women, 1894, no. 195a.

Lot Essay

This portrait of the young Mary Moody, née Paterson, was commissioned from George Romney on the occasion of her marriage to Samuel Moody (1733-1808) in 1786. Romney was by then much in demand. His sitter books from March 1776 to December 1795 record some 1,500 sitters, many of whom commissioned more than one portrait. Pupils and assistants kept a daily record of activities in the studio between October 1786 and April 1796 and the number of sittings per day ranged from three to six or even seven at the height of the season, with one or even two on a Sunday. Romney’s many sitters were doubtless attracted not only by his refined pictorial style but also by his prices, which were consistently lower than those charged by his chief rivals, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. In the year that this portrait was painted, he is documented as charging 20 gns. per three-quarter-length, as opposed to the 30 gns. charged by Gainsborough and the 50 gns. charged by Reynolds. John Romney stated that in 1786 his father painted portraits to the value of 3,504 gns.
Mary Moody was 18 years old when she became the second wife of Samuel Moody, who was some 35 years her senior. His first wife had been painted with their two sons four years earlier by Thomas Gainsborough and Samuel no doubt turned to Romney to produce a likeness of his new wife, which would be an exercise in contrast. Mary’s portrait was painted over the course of eleven sittings between April and December 1786, though the majority of the picture must have been complete by 14 July and the final two appointment on 22 November and 6 December were probably for finishing. Her husband paid Romney’s fee in two installments, the first in May and the second in December, following completion of the work. The resulting portrait is fresh and rapidly handled, the inclusion of the little lap dog reminiscent of the artist’s portrait of Emma Hart (1765–1815), later Lady Hamilton, as Nature, painted four years earlier for the Honourable Charles Greville (1749–1809), now in the Frick Collection, New York.

More from Old Masters

View All
View All