Monday, August 28, 2017

Nelson & Norfolk Exhibition

From the Norwich Evening News:
The love story of Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton was all those things and more – and that was just in their own lifetimes. No wonder, then, that biographers and the public have never lost their appetite for the story. One of Britain’s greatest heroes – and one of Britain’s most notorious (and fascinating) women. It’s the stuff of gossip – and legend.

It would be impossible to tell the story of Horatio Nelson without telling the story of Emma Hamilton. Which is why the Norwich Castle Museum’s Nelson & Norfolk exhibition includes some evocative exhibits which touch upon the passion of these two famous lovers. Even had she never met Nelson, Emma would have – comfortably – been one of the most fascinating women of her age, going from rags to riches and back to rags again.

Emma had won her way through to aristocratic circles by force of personality, charm, intelligence – and beauty. For although notions of attractiveness do change over the centuries, the many paintings of her by George Romney show that Emma Hart would have been one of the most striking women of any age, with her huge and beguiling eyes, perfect skin and rosebud mouth, combining demureness with a worldly-wise frankness. One of the prints based on Romney’s work features in the exhibition. Everything changed for Emma – and Nelson - one fateful year in Naples. And it is this period, after the Battle of the Nile in 1798, that features in several key exhibits in Nelson & Norfolk.

Nelson was recuperating from a head wound in Naples, the capital of the largest kingdom in pre-unified Italy, as the guest of Sir William and Lady Emma Hamilton. Sir William, the British Envoy, had married Emma – the discarded mistress of his nephew Charles Greville – in 1791 when he was 60 and she 26. They made an irresistible couple, as exhibition organiser Ruth Battersby Tooke, Senior Curator – Costume and Textiles, explained. “He was an incredibly intelligent and erudite man,” she said. A shrewd collector, the fruits of his labours feature in many of our national collections. (Read more.)

No comments: