Portrait of a Man in Blue Coat, c. 1780
oil on canvas
75.9 x 64 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Mr. William G. Rait
After art studies in London and regular participation in the Society of Arts and the Free Society exhibitions, Romney travelled to Italy where he spent two years making copies after the Antique and the Old Masters. At the height of his career George Romney was considered one of London’s most fashionable portrait painters, though he also aspired to be a history painter. By the 1770s his services were in great demand, and he frequently worked without the aid of preliminary studies to keep up with the commissions. Romney was drawn to the Neoclassical style and succeeded in incorporating classical elements such as the poses, settings, extravagant drapery, and dramatic lighting. These classical elements can be seen in this half-length portrait, where the sitter’s face is dramatically lighted and seen against a dark-coloured mantle and golden-brown backdrop.