The Strickland family have lived at Sizergh for more than 750 years and this work titled Charles Strickland with a Fishing Rod was painted by Romney in the 1760s.
Romney later went on to become a successful Georgian Society artist and is best known for his portraits of Lord Nelson’s mistress, Emma Hamilton.
He built up his reputation by painting the local gentry, which included the Stricklands.
Romney produced six paintings of the family, five of which can be seen at the castle, while the sixth is of Cecilia Strickland and currently in the National Museum of Cuba, Havana.
The painting of Charles is a rare example of Romney’s early work – quite different to the later style for which he is famed - and depicts Charles as a country gentleman and landowner, fishing on his estate in front of Force Falls on the River Kent near Sedgwick.
The painting was auctioned in the late 1800s and bought by the Grosvenor Estate, where it hung in an accountant’s office and was gifted to him on his retirement. According to the National Trust, years later while visiting Sizergh with his wife, this gentleman recognised a similarity between the four paintings and his own.
After striking up a friendship with the late Mrs Strickland and her son Henry, this gentleman wrote into his will that the castle would have the first chance to buy the painting when he died.
The picture was purchased for an undisclosed sum after fundraising with donations from volunteers at Sizergh, the Romney Society and the V&A Acquisitions Fund. It was restored with funds raised from a sale of raffle tickets.
Senior house steward, Matthew Brown, said: “The portrait hasn’t been seen at Sizergh since 1896 so it’s wonderful to have it back in its original setting after 124 years. The Romney portraits tell a significant part of the family’s story and of their place within British society and we are grateful to everyone who donated towards the cause over the last two years.”