Emma Hart as Miranda (?)

Original art: drawing. A preliminary life chalk study which is said to be by Romney and of Emma Hart (later Lady Hamilton)as Miranda, from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. However the quality and appearance of the image must be considered to cast some doubt on the identity of the artist and the drawing is probably a copy after a Romney print (PAD3234). The dramatic moment shown in Romney's final painting is in act 1, scene 2, when Miranda begs her father Pospero to calm the tempestuous seas that cause the shipwreck at the start of the play. Romney’s painting was his first contribution to Alderman John Boydell’s celebrated Shakespeare Gallery and the largest and most ambitious he ever completed, but it was accidentally destroyed the 1950s and only a few heavily restored fragments now survive. There are however several sketches of Emma as Miranda, for which she sat before her departure for Naples in March 1786.

Emma met Romney in 1782, when she was about 16, through her ‘protector’ Charles Greville. Romney was captivated by her beauty and she became his favourite model until Greville passed her on to the protection of his uncle, Sir William Hamilton, the British ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples. They married in 1791, but in 1799 she also became the lover of Admiral Horatio Nelson in an affair that has become legendary. The drawing is inscribed ‘Miranda’.

Object Details

ID: PAF4384
Collection: Fine art
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Romney, George
Date made: circa 1785-86
People: Hamilton, Emma
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Mount: 185 mm x 168 mm

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