'The Death of Sigismonda'

Five figures in various grieving poses

This is probably the earliest of the cartoons. It may have been made while Romney was still in Rome, for its style - unique among the cartoons - shares the simplicity and austerity of some of his Roman studies. Moreover, the composition resembles paintings by Poussin which Romney could have studied there.

Romney's son believed that the cartoon depicted the death of Cordelia, from King Lear. Although Romney made a number of other designs on this theme in the mid-1770s, this scene neither follows them nor adheres to the action in Shakespeare's play. Recently, the subject has been re-identified as Tancred mourning at the bier of his daughter Sigismonda, from Boccaccio's Decameron.