George Romney

The Beaumont Family

1777–9

Artist
George Romney 1734–1802
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 2045 x 2718 mm
frame: 2300 x 2970 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1919
Reference
N03400

Not on display

Display caption

This ambitious portrait depicts various family members gathered around a painted portrait, possibly a recently deceased brother or a member of the present family group. Here, Romney celebrates the kinship of family life, while acknowledging, through the group’s focus on the portrait upon the table, the vital role of the artist in articulating the sensibility which underlies the familial relationship. This type of intimate family portrait or ‘conversation piece’ had been common in British art for several decades, although in the past it had been painted on a much smaller scale. However, Romney uses the life-size format more usually reserved for official, public portraiture.

Gallery label, May 2007

Technique and condition

The support is a linen canvas with a distinctive twill weave pattern. It is made up of two pieces joined horizontally, approximately one metre from the bottom edge. It has been lined onto a linen lining canvas with a glue-compo adhesive sometime during the nineteenth century. An off-white ground of an average thickness retaining the texture of the canvas is visible.

The oil paint of the design layers have suffered extensive drying shrinkage in the upper layers, which range from narrow to wide and very wide drying cracks and alligatoring with islands of paint. The different colours of the layers below revealed by this shrinkage have been minimised by retouching. There are a considerable number of small ground and paint losses around the edges of the painting and over the horizontal join in the canvas that have been restored.

There are several resin varnish layers applied as a replacement in 1999. The Frame is a temporary one until a more appropriate one can be made.

Christopher Holden
August 1999

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