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The banquet scene from Macbeth was a subject that held Romney's interest over a period of years despite the fact that the unpopularity of his Tempest painting precluded his receiving a commission from Boydell for one on Macbeth.


A series of sketches from c1790-92 show Macbeth restrained by Lady Macbeth as he starts in amazement at Banquo's ghost hovering above the banquet table. These are not composition studies as such since Romney does not work with individual elements in a methodical way to achieve a definitive arrangement. Yet, as the sketches multiply, Romney applies an infinite range of graphic techniques to the treatment of individual forms. Each varying slightly, the sketches move before our eyes like stop frames in cinematic progression.


One of the sketches shows the figure of Macbeth alone. This powerful figure, legs spread wide and left arm raised in a commanding gesture, is slashed authoritatively on the page, its musculature emphasized by dark wedges of shadow.

George Romney. Drawings and sketches. Drawing, late 18th century

George Romney. Drawings and sketches. Drawing, late 18th century

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