Romney needed to paint portraits to earn a living, but his bias is clear in his complaint: "This cursed portrait painting! How I am shackled with it! I am determined to live frugally, that I may enable myself to cut it short as soon as I am tolerably independent, and then give my mind up to those delightful regions of imagination."
That his attention shifted easily from portraits to historical subjects is demonstrated in a sketchbook drawing combining two separate images. At the right is a portrait study of a seated woman in contemporary dress. Sharing the page at the left is a study of a woman rushing forward, with one arm raised and the other at her forehead. This is Cassandra Raving from Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, the subject of a painting Romney sent to the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery. Emma Hart (Lady Hamilton) served as his model.