Romney, George (rŏmˈnē) [key], 1734–1802, English portrait painter, b. Lancashire. Having had little early training, Romney went to London in 1762, where he rapidly became a popular and fashionable portrait painter. He studied in Italy (1773–75), and returned to England to rival Reynolds in popularity. In 1783, Romney met Emma Hart, the future Lady Hamilton, whom he painted many times as various historical figures. During his last years he gave up much of his portrait painting for literary subjects, such as Milton and His Daughters and Scene from "The Tempest" (for Boydell's Shakespeare Gall.). Romney's best portraits are ranked among the finest of the English school. His portraits of women are facile and charming, those of men more studied and impressive (e.g., Self-portrait, 1782; National Portrait Gall., London). He is well represented in the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum, New York City, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
See biography by his son J. Romney (1830); catalogue raisonné by T. H. Ward and W. Roberts (2 vol., 1904).