Admiral Viscount Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton in the Studio of George Romney by William Arthur Breakspeare, 1883

£ 12,500.00






Height: 36 inches (91cm) Width: 28 inches (71cm) Framed height: 46 inches (117cm) Width: 36 inches (91cm)

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This oil painting shows the fictional scene of Emma, Lady Hamilton meeting Lord Nelson in Romney’s studio.  She is seated for her portrait wearing a full pink skirt under a tightly fitted blue jacket trimmed with pink ribbons and draped in a matching filmy blue shawl.  Her face, under a large black hat, is turned away from Romney as she gazes up at Lord Nelson, who stands by her.  The artist Romney waits patiently in the background with his brush poised in front of his canvas.  Signed ‘W Brakespeare’.  In the original gilt frame.  English, 1883.

Height: 36in (91cm) Width: 28in (71cm) Framed height: 46in (117cm) Width: 36in (91cm)   £12,500

Provenance:  The Samuel Aronoff Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio

A private American collection

Published: Nelson: An Illustrated History.  National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 1995. Chapter 6. Stephen Deucher, The Immortal Memory, p. 160.

Roger King,The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievements of Horatio Nelson. 

London, 2005, p.544.

This painting depicts Lady Hamilton sitting for her portrait and the proceedings being interrupted by a conversation with Lord Nelson.  The meeting would never have happened as Emma’s last sitting for Romney was in 1786, but the subject gripped the public imagination, particularly in the late Victorian period after a successful play was written which hinged around this very scenario.  The play, titled variously The Enchantress or Nelson’s Enchantress was penned by Risden Home.  It was based on an earlier Neapolitan play which, in typical 19th century moralising fashion, depicted Nelson and Emma Hamilton as the “bad” characters in the play.  The play opened in London in 1897 and then toured the country.

William Arthur Breakspeare (1856-1914) began formal training at the Birmingham School of Art in 1877 and he proceeded to London, Paris and Belgium, studying with Charles Verlat in Antwerp in the process.  He was a founding member of the Birmingham Art Circle and regularly exhibited there and at the Royal Academy in London, at the Royal Institute of Painters in Oils, the Royal Society of British Artists and the Birmingham Museums Trust.  His self-portrait is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. 

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