Emma Hamilton was one of the most famous international celebrities of her time and her life is the ultimate costume drama. Now largely remembered as the woman who captured the heart of the nation’s hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson, Emma was an extraordinary woman in her own right.
The story of Emma Hamilton is one of female power and achievement in a man’s world, against all odds. Born into poverty in 1765, she rose to be a muse for famous artists, an influential ambassador’s wife, a European cultural icon and Nelson’s mistress – before facing prison and dying in destitution.
Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity traces her spectacular career from rags to riches and back again through over 200 objects, great paintings by George Romney, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Thomas Lawrence, and heartfelt letters between Emma and her lovers. The exhibition also explores the obstacles and social barriers for a woman of her time in the public eye, many of which still resonate today.
Walking tours 18 November, 3 December
Screening of Alexander Korda’s classic film of Emma Hamilton’s life and loves, “That Hamilton Woman” (1941) with Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, 4 November | 6.30–9.30pm