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George Romney (1734-1802)

George Romney was born in Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire, the son of a builder and cabinet-maker. After a patchy schooling, Romney became an assistant to his father. He showed particular aptitude for making fiddles and all his life showed a passion for music. His greatest talent however lay in art and in 1755 he was apprenticed to an itinerant portrait painter called Edward Steele. In 1756, shortly after his marriage to Mary Abbott, Romney moved to York with Steele and then to Lancaster where he purchased his release from his apprenticeship.

Romney established himself in as a portrait painter in Kendal and soon began to attract attention from the local gentry. In 1762 he moved to London, leaving his wife and son behind in what became a permanent albeit amicable separation. He quickly established a reputation and by the 1780s was one of the most famous portrait painters in England. After a long period of failing physical and mental health he died in Kendal in November 1802.

In 1789 Romney painted one of the best-known portraits of John Wesley.

Source: Dictionary of National Biography

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