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!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The New Phaeton

As women's hair grew bigger and bigger in the the 1770s, many satires honed in on the comedy of these women actually getting to their fashionable events that required such sartorial extravagance.  The New Fashioned Phaeton (1776) was one print which had a suggestion for how society could accommodate such fabulosity.