|Emma Hart in a Straw Hat|
Romney—who is related to the former Illinois governor of the same name as well as his son, presidential candidate Mitt Romney—actually changed the family's spelling of the name, which was formerly Rumney.
At the age of 21, Romney was apprenticed for four years to a portrait painter. The apprenticeship (paid for by Romney's cabinetmaker father) was to have lasted longer, but George Romney was able to buy himself out of the servitude and strike out on his own. In those early days when he was painting in the provinces, he charged six guineas for a whole-length portrait and two for a three-quarter figure.
In 1762 Romney came to London to make his fortune, leaving behind his wife and son. His wife, who was of a lower social class than he, never came to live with her husband in London during the nearly 40 years he was away. He provided generously for her—as well as helping out many of his ten siblings.
In London, he raised his prices to 8 guineas for a three-quarter portrait and began to receive many commissions from members of the legal profession, then from those in the theatre. Ten years later he was making an exceedingly comfortable income of over £1,000 a year and was therefore finally able to travel to Italy to really study his art. He stayed abroad for two years.
|3rd Duke of Richmond|
A long procession of aristocrats began to patronize him. This included Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (whose portrait was never finished due to her unreliability); her best friend Bess, who succeeded her as Duchess of Devonshire by marrying the 5th Duke; the Duchess of Gordon; the actress Mary Robinson as Perdita; and Mrs. Fitzherbert, illegal wife of George IV when he was Prince of Wales. Soon Romney's income grew to a lavish £3,000 a year.
|Lady Hamilton as a Bacchante|
Romney and Emma were genuinely fond of one another. When Emma returned to England in 1800 and inquired about Romney, who had chosen to spend the last two year of his life in the country with his wife, Romney said, "The pleasure I should receive from the sight of the amiable Lady Hamilton would be as salutary as great, yet I fear, except I should enjoy more health and better spirits, I shall never be able to see London again."
Cheryl Bolen's first Regency historical romance was published by Harlequin Historical in 1998. For it, she received the title Notable New Author. More than a dozen historical novels set in Regency England have followed—as have awards. Her Christmas book, One Golden Ring, won the Holt Medallion for Best Historical in 2006, and her ebook My Lord Wicked won Best Historical in the International Digital Awards in 2012. She has two upcoming releases: Book 2 in the Regent Mysteries, A Most Discreet Inquiry, and her first book for Love Inspired Historical, Marriage of Inconvenience. Many of her articles on Regency England can be found on her blog, www.CherylsRegencyRamblings.wordpress.com.