New Romney Catalogue Raisonné

July 17 2015

Image of New Romney Catalogue Raisonné

Picture: Yale

I've been wondering lately whether to institute a new AHN category called 'Heroes of Art History'. And surely an early recipient of this life-changing award must be Alex Kidson, whose invaluable new catalogue raisonneé of George Romney's paintings has just been published by Yale.

It's a three volume work, and costs a hefty £180. But that's worth it for what you get - the most thorough analysis yet of one of Britain's greatest painters. Here's the Yale blurb:

This magnificent catalogue, in three volumes and with nearly 2,000 illustrations, will restore George Romney (1734–1802) to his long-overdue position – with his contemporaries Reynolds and Gainsborough – as a master of 18th-century British portrait painting. The product of impressive and thorough research undertaken over the course of 20 years, Alex Kidson asserts Romney’s status as one of the greatest British painters, whose last catalogue raisonné was published over 100 years ago. In more than 1,800 entries, many supported by new photography, Kidson aims to solve longstanding issues of attribution, distinguishing genuine pictures by Romney from works whose traditional attribution to him can no longer be supported. The author’s insights are guided by rich primary source material on Romney—including account books, ledgers, and sketchbooks—as well as secondary sources such as prints after lost works, newspaper reports and reviews, and writings by Romney’s contemporaries.

Alex Kidson is special projects fellow, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and was curator of the 2002 bicentennial exhibition George Romney 1734–1802.

I've met Alex quite a few times over the last decade or so, and have seen first hand his tireless deidcation to the Romney cause. I've even sent him a few new Romney discoveries for potential inclusion over the years, and I think I'm right in saying that they're almost all in the book. Needless to say, the one picture I know has not been included is one that I actually own, which I suppose is a Romney version of Sod's Law. The last I heard, Alex had said 'maybe'. But it's an interesting picture, and I like it regardless.

The book is available to order here, and has been sponsored by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

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