Anna Seward posed for this portrait by British artist George Romney as a gift for her friend and fellow poet William Hayley. A book titled America lies on the table next to Seward, which may reference her poem “Monody on the death of Major André in America” (1781). Seward also admired Richard Mansergh St. George in her writings. She compared St. George to fellow British Army officer John André whom George Washington’s army hanged as a spy in 1780. André was also a Romantic figure who possessed artistic skill and loved theatrics. To Seward, both André and St. George represented the best and brightest gentlemen of the British Empire who fought in America. While André became a British martyr, St. George returned from America with a wound that symbolized Britain’s emotional upheaval upon losing 13 of its American colonies.
Painted by George Romney
Oil on Canvas
Fleming Museum of Art, University of Vermont, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Burden, 1953.9