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George Romney, Elizabeth, Lady Blunt, c. 1764, oil on canvas, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Rienzi Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris Masterson III.

“The Man in Cavendish Square” Romney, Reynolds, and the Politics of Portraiture

Thursday, Oct 04, 2012
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Law Building
1001 Bissonnet Map & Directions

Presented by Martin Postle, assistant director for academic activities, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, and a leading expert on the art of Sir Joshua Reynolds

Sir Joshua Reynolds, first president of the Royal Academy, and George Romney were pitted against each other as portrait rivals in London during the final quarter of the 18th century. Reportedly, Reynolds was so jealous of Romney’s success that Reynolds could not bear to say Romney's name, referring to Romney instead as "the man in Cavendish Square."

Martin Postle explores the rivalry between these two great portrait painters in terms of their personal biographies, their public personae, their social and intellectual circles, and their respective sitters, including celebrated courtesans, actresses, and politicians. He also considers the ways in which Reynolds and Romney handled specific portrait commissions; how their style and technique varied; and how their reputations differed: Reynolds as the founder of the British school of art and Romney as a man living on, and at times beyond, the edge of respectable Georgian society.

This lecture anticipates the opening of the exhibition Visions of Fancy: George Romney, 18th-Century Paintings and Drawings, on view at Rienzi from October 14 through January 20. 

General admission to the MFAH is free on Thursdays, courtesy of Shell Oil Company Foundation. This lecture is free, but tickets are required. To secure your seats, get your tickets in advance! Tickets are available online (printer required to print out ticket), by phone at 713.639.7771, or at any admissions desk at the MFAH.

Questions? Contact or 713.639.7771.

Education programs at Rienzi receive generous funding from the Sterling-Turner Foundation; the Brown Foundation, Inc.; Carroll Sterling and Harris Masterson III Endowment Fund; and the Caroline Wiess Law Endowment Fund for Rienzi.