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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.

August 2004