February 2023 – The course of true love never did run smooth.

16th February 2023

I am sorry to put a dampener on Valentine’s Day romance but numerous items in our collections seem to chime with Shakespeare’s bleak comment above from ‘Romeo and Juliet’.  Two more of his tragedies featured star-crossed lovers – Anthony and Cleopatra and Troilus and Cressida.  Above is a painting of an imaginary scene depicting Romney’s studio with Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton, whose scandalous love affair fascinated Georgian Britain and the world beyond.  Although they did live as man and wife for several years, and have a child, Nelson never divorced his wife.  After his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the British government steadfastly refused to recognize Emma, or give her a pension, and she ended up dying in penury in France (the nation which had ultimately killed him, but also propelled him to everlasting fame!).  Their love affair had lasted seven years, much of which he spent at sea.

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