They depict a brother and sister, George and Caroline Purling. Sadly, little is known of their lives but George (1764-1840) worked for The East India Company in Bengal until 1800. His sister was born in 1754 and died near Canterbury in 1819. Each sibling died unmarried and without issue.
However, the pictures are thought to date from the early 1780s and the commission probably arose from the Purling family home being close to Romney’s own house in Cavendish Square in London. They were exhibited at a show at The Grafton Galleries in London in 1900 but have passed by unbroken descent in the sitters’ family.
Richard Kay, Lawrences’ picture specialist, commented: “It is a delight to be able to offer a matched pair of portraits with such immediate charm. Miss Purling’s coraline dress complements her brother’s blue-green coat and each sitter has an engagingly demure presence. In addition, the condition is good and they are each in the original frames of the type that Romney liked to specify for his portraits.”
The estimate is £50,000-80,000 for the pair.