These remarkably free oil sketches by George Romney date from between 1780 and 1781 and show the children of Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby (1752-1834) and his first wife, Lady Elizabeth, née Hamilton (1753-1797). The portrait of the young Lord Stanley relates very closely to Romney’s great finished canvas of The Stanley Children in the collection of the present Earl of Derby, showing Lord Stanley with his sister, Lady Charlotte (A. Kidson, op. cit., pp. 548-549, no. 1230, illustrated). For that portrait, Romney recorded a total of twelve sittings for Lord Stanley between 4 May 1780 and 23 February 1781 and a total of nine sittings for Lady Charlotte between 4 May 1780 and 18 January 1781. The present study may have been taken from the life in order to allow the artist to work up the large double-portrait separately. The portrait of the girl has traditionally been identified as a sketch of Lady Charlotte, based on its identical provenance to the sketch of her brother. Yet while the physiognomy of the sitter is similar to the figure of Lady Charlotte in the finished painting, the pose and countenance differ. It is possible that this is a preparatory sketch for the finished work, which was rejected in favor of the likeness described in the double portrait. It is also possible that portrait is of the third child of the Earl and Countess of Derby, Lady Elizabeth Henrietta Stanley (b. 1778). Indeed, John Romney recorded a painting which he called ‘the other children of Lord Derby unfinished; the heads cut out in one piece and sold at the sale’ under the year 1780 in his Rough Lists of his father’s work, perhaps thinking that this canvas shows Lady Elizabeth and believing that she was due to be included in the group portrait. Both sketches likely once formed part of a complete canvas described as ‘Children – painted for the late Countess of Derby’ in Romney’s studio sale (see Provenance).