Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lady Hamilton's Attitudes

During the height of Emma Hamilton's celebrity, English visitors touring Italy would make sure to stop at the Hamilton homestead to check out her 'attitudes.'  Emma would pose in the classical positions (or attitudes) found on Greek vases, much to the delight of all who saw.  These were witnessed and drawn by many great artists of the time.  One particularly enterprising artist, Fredrich Rehberg, drew Emma's attitudes and made them into a collection of prints so that the poor souls who couldn't afford to see this tourist draw could relive it every day in book form.  Rehberg called this book, Drawings faithfully copied from nature at Naples : and with permission dedicated to the Right Honourable Sir William Hamilton, His Britannic Majesty’s Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at the court of Naples / by his most humble servant Frederick Rehberg, historical painter in His Prussian Majesty’s service at Rome.  What a mouthful.


However, poor Emma, like many celebrities today, struggled with weight issues (among other things).   Unlike celebrities today, there was no strict workout regime for Emma to undergo to maintain her slim figure.  Emma grew bigger, but that didn't stop her from receiving visitors and displaying her attitudes.   It wasn't long before this caught the eye of satirical artists back in London.  In 1807 a new version of the book came out under the title, A new edition considerably enlarged, of Attitudes faithfully copied from nature : and humbly dedicated to all admirers of the grand and sublime.  Although a characterization, the satirical artist's (probably Gillray) prints were fairly accurate: Emma was obese by 1807 due to years of food and alcohol abuse.  But with that said, I must say that I much prefer the satirical version of Emma's attitudes!




12 comments:

  1. It is sad to have your faults played out for everyone to see. She certainly was an interesting woman. I have just received the book "Emma: Lady Hamilton" by Flora Fraser. I can't wait to read it, although it won't happen until the summer.

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  2. A typical tale of celebrity life, isn't it? You must tell me what you think of the book, I read it quite a while ago and there was some pretty unbelievable stuff in it.

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  3. And the then version of Fashion Police was?

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  4. She still looks graceful to me!

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  5. Z okazji świąt życzy Tobie Syneloi by każdy dzień był radością Twego serca.

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  6. could someone translate that last post? Polish?

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  7. I read the Flora Fraser book and I came away with the feeling that I would not have liked Emma Hamilton very much. She came across as a little stupid. Like a pathetic modern day supermodel. Vain, weak, selfish but her looks carried her further than she could ever have hoped for. I wanted to rally to her cause but never could. I felt sorry for her sometimes but she was her own worst enemy.

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  8. I love your blog so much that I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger award: http://brokecostumer.blogspot.com/2013/04/very-inspiring-blogger-award.html

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  9. Thank you Cindy!

    Caryn, I just had this conversation with my supervisor. She's Team Emma, and didn't seem to have the same image of her as painted through the Fraser book...which makes me think I need to reexamine Miss Hart.

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  10. I look forward to your thoughts. I felt so sorry for Horatia, perhaps it colored my feelings.

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  11. Lady Hamilton was really brave and lovely. Beauty comes in all shapes.

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