By DARLA MCCAMMON
Lakeland Arts Association
WARSAW — As the Executive Director of the Animal Welfare League I would be very remiss if I did not share with you some interesting art work by famous artists about dogs and cats. For the next few weeks we will delve into some little known facts about various artists including information about their own personal pets as well as those they may have included in their famous works.
I think you will enjoy this journey into the lesser known historical and fascinating information surrounding these artists. Let’s begin with Artist George Romney and his painting Lady Hamilton as Nature. This portrait was produced in 1782. In case the name Romney sounds familiar, you are correct. This artist, from overseas in Lancashire was related to our presidential contender Mitt Romney by way of being a first cousin to Mitt Romney’s great-great grandfather.
This Romney was born in 1734 in a large family of eleven children. He left school at age eleven, worked for his father’s cabinet business and then became an understudy to artist Christopher Steel. He married and began producing portraits in Kendal from 1756 to 1762. He left his family including his wife and son in the north and began to seek his fortune in London where he had success with his historical works of art and began receiving awards. He never sent for his wife and son and made infrequent trips north to visit them and the rest of his family. He visited Paris and was influenced by work he saw there.
Returning to London he achieved great success when he came under the patronage of the Duke of Richmond. The subject of the portrait with the lovely little Spaniel was Emma Lyon, a scandalous young woman whose life much resembled that of Ms. Doolittle in Pygmalion. Here she is shown at age 17 rising from the lowly status of a blacksmith’s daughter to become the mistress of wealthy men of Great Britain and eventually to snag a husband, Lord Hamilton, who pulled her out of the depths and into the life and etiquette of a noblewoman.
The pet in her arms is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and was a favorite pet of King Charles II. This pint-sized Spaniel weights about 13 to 18 pounds, and, according to the American Kennel Club, “is adaptable in their need for exercise, happy with either sleeping on the couch or taking long walks. The Cavalier does not demand more than a loving home…and a fenced yard.” They go on to say they are not always obedient to commands, especially if they are busy chasing butterflies or birds.
The artist, George Romney continued to be successful but in later years declined rather sharply and had to sell off many of his holdings. It was reported that he eventually died insane, which in those days could have easily been misdiagnosed senility. No one seems to know for sure, but Romney did leave some tremendous work for us to enjoy.
Next week another pet portrait!
Upcoming and Current Events:
- County Art Show winners on display at Clark Gallery, in Honeywell Center, Wabash, Ind., through Feb. 27. Free.
- Lakeland Art Gallery, Forty Years of Garage Sale Art, 302 E. Winona Ave., Warsaw, until March.
- Warsaw City Hall Art Gallery through March 15. Open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Perry Olshein oil paintings on view.
For more information on topics in this column, please contact Darla McCammon at [email protected] or (574) 527-4044. Columns will be available on this site soon, following our news media versions.