GEORGE ROMNEY (1734-1802), BRITISH
HEAD OF A BEARDED MAN (PRESUMED TO BE KING LEAR) PROSTRATE CLASSICAL FEMALE MARTYR OR SAINT (A DOUBLE-SIDED DRAWING), CIRCA EARLY 1760S TO EARLY 1770S
The recto: a pencil and black chalk drawing, the verso: a pen, brown ink and pencil drawing numbered “No. 158” in pen and ink at the top centre of the sheet with the black ink stamp of the collector Alfred de Pass in the lower left corner
Sheet 11.75 x 17.7 in — 29.8 x 45 cm
The Collection of Alfred de Pass, No. 45 in the de Pass album
The Truro Museum, Cornwall, UK and their sale sold at Christie’s 22 February, 1966, described one side only “A Prostrate Woman”, part of Lot 38
From whom purchased by Alistair Matthews
Sotheby’s Lot 343, 16 October, 1986, illustrated
Christopher Powney, Dealer in Drawings, Shropshire, UK and Colnaghi, London
From whom purchased by the Private Collection, Hamilton, Ontario in 1987
Sotheby catalogue sale “Victorian Drawings and Watercolours and British Watercolours”, 16th October, 1986, Lot 343, p. 84, illustrated
This lot is similar in numbering on drawings No. 2, 7, 10, 20, 61 65, 66 illustrated in “Drawings of George Romney from the Fitzwilliam Museum”, 1977.
Both drawings, although different in style, and drawn with some time span between them, are typical subjects for Romney. According to Alex Kidson they are probably both early drawings dating from the 1760s to the early 1770s. “The Head of a Bearded Man” was probably drawn first. Romney executed various other versions of the prostrate classical female. The “No. 158” inscription may be the writing of John Romney, the artist’s son, cataloguing his father’s drawings by subject.
According to Kidson, this lot must be No. 45 in the de Pass album. In this one instance, the verso only was described. It is clear that at the time, the verso and not the old man (King Lear?) was exposed to view. It must have been firmly glued down and deemed too hard to expose the other side. Kidson’s notes for No. 45 cite “a prostrate woman” with no mention of King Lear.
We are grateful to Alex Kidson and The Romney Society for their assistance in cataloguing this lot.