George Romney

Lady Hamilton as Cassandra

c.1785–6

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 460 x 460 mm
frame, circular: 672 x 672 x 57 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Maj.-Gen. John Julius Johnstone 1898
Reference
N01668

Display caption

Romney is best known for his serene portraiture, but had ambitions to be a history painter. Throughout his career he designed innumerable grand, turbulent compositions which usually remained as sketches. He frequently used the lovely Emma Hart, later wife of Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy at Naples, as a model for 'fancy' pictures in which she assumes a variety of characters. In this sketch she appears as Cassandra, daughter of Priam, King of Troy, who was given the power of prophecy. Romney evokes her ravings as she pronounces the doom of the city after its ten-year siege by the Greeks. The finished full-length was engraved in 1795, but is now lost.

Gallery label, August 2004