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Emma, Lady Hamilton

2 of 28 portraits of Emma, Lady Hamilton

Emma, Lady Hamilton, by George Romney, circa 1785 - NPG 4448 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Emma, Lady Hamilton

by George Romney
oil on canvas, circa 1785
24 1/2 in. x 20 1/2 in. (623 mm x 521 mm)
Purchased with help from The Art Fund, 1965
Primary Collection
NPG 4448


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  • George Romney (1734-1802), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 156 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.

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The daughter of a Cheshire blacksmith, Emma Hart had a spectacularly successful career as mistress to a succession of older men, finally marrying Sir William Hamilton, the British envoy in Naples. Romney met her when she was only seventeen and the mistress of Charles Greville. He was clearly besotted by her and painted her again and again, becoming her friend but probably not her lover, however much he might have liked to be. As she wrote to him on 20 December 1791, 'you was the first dear friend I open'd my heart to, you ought to know me, for you have seen and discoursed with me in my poorer days, you have known me in my poverty and prosperity'. This portrait is one of many that Romney kept back in his studio for his private delectation. It conveys something of his feeling for her doe-eyed beauty.

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