Emma, Lady Hamilton, 1765-1815

The pair to PAJ3939, showing Nelson, this pastel portrait of Emma is signed and dated by the artist in pencil lower left, 'Schmidt / 1800'. Schmidt was artist to the ducal court of Saxony at Dresden. He drew this pair of portraits of Nelson and Emma Hamilton from sittings taken there at the Hotel de Pologne early in October that year, where they stayed during their return to England from Naples, with Sir William Hamilton. Nelson subsequently hung it in his cabin when at sea, including in 'Victory' from 1802 to his death at Trafalgar and, according to Emma, called it his 'Guardian Angel'. While at Dresden Emma borrowed a number of gowns from a young Irish widow there, Mrs Melesina St George, who thought Emma's 'own taste in dress frightful' (in Carola Oman's account the visit [1947]): 'Her waist', wrote Mrs St George, 'is absolutely between her shoulders'. Whoever the muslin gown shown belonged to, the high waist is evident, disguising both the weight that the 39-year-old Emma had then put on but also the fact that she was already about five months pregnant with Nelson's daughter Horatia, born in January 1801. She is also shown wearing the order of the Knights of Malta (awarded by Tsar Paul of Russia for her humanitarian work). This item was acquired as part of the Ingram Collection in 1963. For details of Emma, see BHC2736, Romney's 1786 oil portrait of her. [PvdM amended 12/10]

Object Details

ID: PAJ3940
Collection: Fine art
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Schmidt, Johann Heinrich
Date made: 1800
Exhibition: Seduction and Celebrity: The Spectacular Life of Emma Hamilton
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Ingram Collection
Measurements: Frame: 463 x 395 mm

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