Portrait of Two Girls (Misses Cumberland)

about 1772–73
George Romney (English, 1734–1802)


73.7 x 63.5 cm (29 x 25 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Alan and Simone Hartman Galleries (Gallery 241)





Richard Cumberland was one of the best-known writers of the day and friend to leading painters, poets, and actors. Here, his daughters, Elizabeth and Sophia, read his latest play, The Fashionable Lover. Romney constructs an affectionate and subtle narrative with the sisters’ differing responses. Elizabeth is on the cusp of adolescence and dressed in an “adult” gown: her dreamy stare suggests that the theme of fashionable love has sparked her imagination. Sophia, slim and childish in a green smock, struggles to understand the meaning of her father’s words.


After 1772-3, commissioned from the artist by Richard Cumberland (b. 1732 - d. 1811) Cambridge, UK [see note 1]; by 1811, inherited by Sophia Cumberland (Mrs. William Badcock), (b. 1761 - d. 1823); after 1823, by descent through the family to Rev. W.R. Brodrick, (grandson of Sophia); March 19, 1892, Brodrick sale, Christie's, London, lot 724, bought in to F.H. Brodrick [see note 2]; June 14, 1902, Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, lot 91, to Agnew's, London (stock no. 518); 1902-4, sold by Agnew's to T. J. Blakeslee & Co. Galleries, New York; by 1909, purchased by Robert Dawson Evans (b. 1843 - d. 1909), Boston; 1909, inherited by his widow, Mrs. Robert Dawson Evans (Maria Antoinette Hunt) (b. 1845 - 1917), Boston; 1917, bequest of Mrs. Robert Dawson Evans to the MFA. (Accession date: November 1, 1917).

[1] A prolific playwright and father of the sitters, Elizabeth (b. 1759/60 - d. 1837) and Sophia (b. 1761 - 1823), Kent. Elizabeth, (holding her father's 1772 play, The Fashionable Lover), would later become Lady Edward Cavendish-Bentinck, while Sophia would later become Mrs. William Badcock, then Mrs. Reese.
[2] F.H. Brodrick lent the painting to the 1900 Grafton Galley Exhibition, London, no. 96.

Credit Line

Robert Dawson Evans Collection