George Romney Tom Hayley as Robin Goodfellow 1789–92

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Artwork details

Artist
George Romney 1734–1802
Title
Tom Hayley as Robin Goodfellow
Date 1789–92
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 756 x 635 mm
frame: 920 x 790 x 90 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Bequeathed by Mrs Arthur James 1948
Reference
N05850
Not on display

Display caption

Thomas Alphonso was William Hayley's adored illegitimate son by his housemaid. This portrait showing him as the domestic spirit Robin Goodfellow was painted in 1791 for Hayley's wife Eliza. Thomas was a child prodigy as writer, painter and sculptor. For the final years of his life he was ill. He died in May 1800, crippled by curvature of the spine. One of his doctors was Hayley's friend William Long (1747-1818) who was an early owner of a copy of Blake's 'Poetical Sketches' of 1783. When Thomas died, Blake wrote sympathetically to Hayley. He recalled the death of his own beloved brother Robert in 1787, saying that Tom's loss was 'a repetition of what all feel in this valley of misery and happiness mixed'.

August 2004

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