Lot 273
  • 273

George Romney

40,000 - 60,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • George Romney
  • Portrait of Lady Georgiana Smyth (circa 1757-1799) and her son
  • oil on canvas
  • 39 by 30 1/8  in.; 99 by 76.5 cm.


By descent to John Smyth (the boy depicted in the portrait);
Acquired by the Clay family, Halifax, in 1878;
By whom sold privately, through Christie's, to Mrs. F.C.K. Fleischmann in 1895;
Noel Ashcroft;
By family descent until sold, London, Sotheby's, 12 Juy 1989, lot 61 (titled incorrectly "Portrait of Mrs. Clay and her Son");
There acquired by Colnaghi, London;
With Historical Portraits, London, 1997;
From whom acquired by the present owner in 1998.


London, Gooden's Gallery, English Pictures, Portraits and Landscapes, 1900, no. 11;
Rome, International Fine Arts Exhibition, 1911, (British Section), no. 82;


J. Romney, Memoirs of the Life and Works of George Romney, London 1830, p. 193;
A. Cunningham, "Romney," in The Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors and Architects, London 1832, vol. 5, p.137;
H. Gamlin, Romney and His Art, London 1894, p. 182;
G. Paston, George Romney, London 1903, p. 198;
H. Ward and W. Roberts, Romney, A Biographical and Critical Essay with a Catalogue Raisonné of his Works, London and New York 1904, vol. 2, p. 146;
A.B. Chamberlain, George Romney, London 1910, p. 131;
A. Kidson, George Romney, A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, New Haven and London 2015, vol. 2, p. 540, cat. no. 1212, reproduced.

Catalogue Note

This intimate portrait depicts Lady Georgiana Smyth and her son, John Henry (1780-1822).  Lady Georgiana was the eldest child of Augustus Henry, 3rd Duke of Grafton by his first wife, the Hon. Anne Liddell.  She married John Smyth of Heath Hall, near Pontefract, Yorkshire in 1778, with whom she had two sons.  John Henry, the elder son, was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge.  He married firstly, in 1810, Sarah Caroline, daughter of Henry Ibbetson of St. Anthony’s, Northumberland.  She died in 1811 and he was married again in 1814 to his cousin, Lady Elizabeth Anne Fitzroy, daughter of George Henry, 4th Duke of Grafton.  John Henry served as MP for Cambridge University from 1810-1821.

This portrait was painted in 1783 and was likely commissioned to celebrate the third birthday of John Henry who was born on 20 March, 1780.  Lady Georgiana and her son had thirteen appointments with Romney between 17 March and 12 June.  By the time of the 1911 Rome exhibition (see Exhibited), the identity of the sitters had become lost and the portrait was shown as “Mrs. Clay and Child.”  The portrait still bore that title when it was sold at auction in 1989 (see Provenance), but the correct identity of the sitters was subsequently re-established.