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Lady Emma Hamilton (1765-1815) as Cassandra

BHC2261
Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art
User collections K+ Emma Hamilton by MigenaC
Gallery locationQH (Floor plans)
PeopleDepiction: Hamilton, Emma

Object details:

Object ID BHC2261
Description A copy of a study of Emma Hart, by George Romney. She is shown posing as Cassandra from Shakespeare’s ‘Troilus and Cressida’. Romney’s Cassandra painting was among his contributions to Alderman John Boydell’s celebrated Shakespeare Gallery. Emma met Romney in 1782, when she was about 16, through her ‘protector’ Charles Greville. Romney was apparently captivated by her beauty and she became his favourite model until, in March 1786, 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. Throughout Romney’s career he designed innumerable grand, turbulent compositions which usually remained as sketches. He frequently used Emma as the model for what George Vertue described as 'fancy pictures’, or scenes with elements of imagination, invention or storytelling. She assumed a variety of characters for Romney. Here she appears as Cassandra, daughter of Priam, King of Troy, who was given the power of prophecy. Clothed in the simple drapery of ancient Greece, and with wild hair flowing freely, Romney evokes her ravings as she pronounces the doom of the city after its ten-year siege by the Greeks. The original Cassandra image for Boydell’s Gallery directly influenced public taste. The finished full-length painting was engraved in 1795, but is now lost. There is a preliminary chalk study for the portrait in the Collection, see PAF4383 and the Tate Gallery has a paint study. Emma gave over 300 sittings for Romney in a four year period, and the last picture Romney painted of her was as a spinstress. See PAD4300 ‘George Romney painting Lady Emma Hamilton as Arachnae’, Frank Dadd 1912, for a later interpretation.
Date made Mid 18th century - Early 19th century

Artist/Maker Romney, George
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Nelson-Ward Collection
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 455 mm x 380 mm; Frame: 616 mm x 544 mm x 75 mm; Overall: 6.3 kg
Parts
  • Lady Emma Hamilton (1765-1815) as Cassandra (BHC2261)
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