George Romney 1734-1802
- George Romney
- Portrait of Elizabeth Chafyn-Grove (1756-1832)
- oil on canvas, unlined
By descent to Julia Elizabeth Chafyn Grove, his daughter who died unmarried and was succeeded by her cousin, George Troyte-Chafin-Grove;
Lieutenant-Colonel Edward George Troyte-Bullock, his son, and thence by descent to the present owner
Desmond Hawkins, The Grove Diaries, The Rise and Fall of an English Family 1809-1925, 1995, illustrated
A portrait of great beauty, this work was painted in 1779. At this time Romney rivalled both Gainsborough and Reynolds, a measure of both his ability and reputation as a painter, and the fact that he shrewdly undercut the prices of his rivals. Sittings for this portrait are listed from January to April, with some additional sittings the following year.
The sitter was the daughter of John Grove of Ferne, and his wife, Philippa, daughter of Walter Long of Preshaw and Salisbury Close. She was also the sister of Thomas Grove (1758-1847) who was a Major in the Wiltshire Yeomanry Cavalry, a Master of Foxhounds and Sheriff of Radnorshire in 1795, 1803, and 1805. Thomas married Charlotte Pilford, whose sister, Elizabeth, married Timothy Shelley and gave birth to Percy Bysshe Shelley, the great Romantic poet.
On 7th October 1776 Elizabeth married her cousin, William Chafyn Grove, M.P. (1731-1793) of Zeals House, Wiltshire (fig.1). He entered the Middle Temple in 1750, and was called to the Bar six years later. He served as M.P. for Shaftesbury between 1768 and 1774 and thereafter for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. He eventually vacated his seat in 1781. They had no children, and throughout the diaries of her nieces Harriet and Charlotte she is known affectionately as ‘Aunt Chafin’.
This fine portrait hung at Zeals until the middle part of the last century. The earliest record for a house on the site of Zeals dates from 1304, although the Chafyn family did not live at Zeals until 1452. In 1686 the heiress of Zeals, Mary Chafyn, married John Grove. It was their grandson who married the present sitter. On account of their childless marriage the estate passed to their nephews, Chafyn and subsequently William Chafyn, and the picture remained at the house, passing by descent.
Romney painted a companion portrait of the sitter's husband. A half length portrait of Mrs Chafyn-Grove was also painted by Romney. This work is now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.