'The Infant Shakespeare Nursed by Tragedy and Comedy'

Two female figures kneel and sit on the ground with a small baby

This variant treatment of the birth of Shakespeare may have begun life as The Infancy of Jupiter, a subject Romney noted in one of his Italian sketchbooks. The cartoon is executed in divergent styles, with the figures of the baby Shakespeare and Comedy having apparently been patched onto an earlier design.

The features of Comedy are those of Emma Hart, suggesting that Romney made the alterations in the mid-1780s. Romney returned to the subject as a painting in the following decade, again employing Emma as a model for the figure of Comedy (see cat. 132).