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Shakespearean Subjects

Romney enjoyed the theater, and in the late 1770s he and other friends formed a small eight-member club called The Unincreasables. This group attended the theater together and met regularly to dine, discuss theatrical events, and hear readings of plays. ne member was John Henderson (1747-1785) who, along with David Garrick, was among the most distinguished Shakespearean actors of the time. In addition to Henderson, Romney painted other actors and actresses such as Mrs. Yates, Mrs. Siddons, and Emma Hart. Romney depicted Hart as Titania, Joan of Arc, Cassandra, and Miranda.

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Henry VI, Part II
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When Hart departed for the Continent in 1786, he found comfort in beginning his sketched for the launching of Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery. This project gave enormous impetus to the illustration of Shakespeare's plays and stands as the most important instance of patronage of history painting in eighteenth-century England. Romney's desire to paint historical pictures would at last be blessed with patronage. Between 1786 and 1792 the artist's creative energy was devoted primarily to working on designs for pictures for the Gallery. 

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