DALLAS, TX.- The Dallas Museum of Art
announced today the reattribution of the painting, Young Man with a Flute, to the artist George Romney. The work of art has been in the Museums collections for nearly 25 years and entered it in 1987 as part of a bequest of Mrs. Sheridan Thompson. At the time of the paintings acquisition, the artist was unknown but the painting was thought to be by the American colonial era portrait painter Ralph Earl.
Then in 2000 on a visit to the Museum, British art dealer Phillip Mould suggested that the painting might be the oeuvre of English painter George Romney (17341802) but was not able to provide further evidence to the DMA. Ten years later, and soon after his arrival at the DMA from the Louvre, Olivier Meslay, Senior Curator of European and American Art and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art, viewed the painting in the art storage area, learned of Moulds earlier suspicion, and wanted to know more. He showed the work of art to another visiting expert, Piers Davies, Specialist of Old Master Paintings with Christies, New York. Davies, like Mould a decade earlier, immediately noted the likeness of Young Man with a Flute to the style of similar portraits by Romney from around the same time period, 17601770.
Meslay then contacted the internationally renowned Romney expert Alex Kidson, Consultant Curator with the National Museums Liverpool. Kidson analyzed the painting and determined the painter to be George Romney, a key figure in 18th-century British art. Romney was a contemporary of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough and after Reynolds death in 1792 Romney became the most famous portrait painter in England .
Young Man with a Flute is on view in the DMAs European art galleries on Level 2, alongside a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the Museums collections, Portrait of Miss Mary Pelham.
The confirmation that Young Man with a Flute is by George Romney, one of Britains most famous portrait painters, is an exciting moment for the Museum and demonstrates the importance of supporting curatorial research, said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. To make this discovery after more than 25 years as an unknown work in our collections is as thrilling as if we had just made a new acquisition.
Young Man with a Flute is a very moving painting, done by Romney in the first half of his career, and in it, you can really see how the artists exquisite skills, which will bring him enormous acclaim later in life, are developing, added Senior Curator Meslay. It is an interesting find that truly demonstrates the depth of the DMAs collections.