Emma Hart, later Lady Hamilton, c. 1761 - 1815, as 'The Spinstress'

Oval miniature in watercolour in an oval gilt-metal beaded surround set in a black-lacquered backing board with damaged applied gilt-moulded gesso decoration. It probably originally had a brass suspension-ring hanger, top centre, but this is now missing. The sitter is shown bust-length, fully turned to her left and looking back over her right shoulder to the viewer. She is dressed all in white including a long shawl draped over her head and back over her right shoulder. The background is neutral warm two-tone stone colour, the vertical dividing line corresponding with the architectural background of Romney's original painting.

Emma Hart - as she then was- was Romney's favourite model and he painted her many times before she left England for Naples in 1786, and later from studies. This miniature is a partial copy of the portrait of her called 'The Spinstress', painted for her lover and protector Charles Greville in about 1784-85, which shows her seated working at a spinning wheel in an outdoor setting. The original painting is now in the Iveagh Bequest at Kenwood House, Hampstead, London (English Heritage). It has now (2013) been suggested that the artist of this item may be Richard or Maria Cosway, or at least that it is in their manner: this remains to be further investigated.

Object Details

ID: MNT0043
Collection: Fine art
Type: Miniature
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Romney, George; unidentified
Date made: Late 18th century to early 19th century
People: Hamilton, Emma
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Sutcliffe-Smith Collection
Measurements: Overall: 270 mm x 232 mm x 20 mm

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