On Valentine’s Day, I passed the evening at the ‘Seduction Late’ for the ‘Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity‘ exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
This was a museum late where guests could view the exhibition after museum hours whilst immersing themselves in a Regency ball experience co-hosted by Miss B and Miss Kitty Pridden from the Georgian Dining Academy.
All guests were encouraged to dress up like Georgians which added to the atmosphere. Those without a costume could also decorate their own masks with sequins and feathers. Many, however, came dressed in costumes they’d made or hired.
The rectangular floor was transformed into ‘salons’ for various activities. There was a salon for dancing, for cards, for listening to lectures, and for learning about naval history. Near the entrance was a table where guests could sample strong rum based on the recipe for the bottles of Pusser’s Rum that the navy would have drunk.
Fancy a game of cards? Winner wins [chocolate] gold coins!
Throughout the evening in the ‘ballroom’, Libby taught guests some Regency dances which was enjoyed by all who took part.
Finally, as a souvenir of their time travelling experience in the Regency era, guests could take home a silhouette of themselves by The Roving Artist, Charles Burns:
Emma Hamilton Exhibition
The lower level of the museum is dedicated to the temporary exhibition on Emma, Lady Hamilton and the gift shop. Many may remember her as simply the beautiful mistress of Lord Nelson. However, this exhibit shows that Emma (born Amy Lyon) was so much more than just a pretty face.
“I wish…to show the world that a pretty woman is not always a fool.” – Emma Hamilton, 1791
“I wish…to show the world that a pretty woman is not always a fool.” – #EmmaHamilton This incredible woman proved that she was an asset (especially politically) in a society that looked down on women. ‘Lady Hamilton as Circe’ by George Romney, c. 1782, on display at #TateBritain but currently on loan at the #NationalMaritimeMuseum for the temporary exhibit. #London #painting #art #igerslondon
Born the daughter of a blacksmith, Emma became a maid at age 12 and eventually became a hostess, dancer, and model for various men. She later became the wife of Sir William Hamilton and subsequently the mistress of Lord Nelson. The oil paintings by George Romney are a testament that Emma was a natural beauty. However, the letters that we see from Emma and Lord Nelson show us that she was educated, caring, and politically active. By the end of the exhibit, however, we learn that society is harsh on women who lack a powerful and wealthy benefactor. From rags to riches and back to rags, poor Emma died in Calais with her daughter, Horatia, at her side. One wonders what could have been had Lord Nelson not died at sea. Would he have divorced his wife and married Emma? Would they have been able to publicly acknowledge their daughter Horatia and live as a happy family?
The exhibition is on until 17 April 2017. It is open daily from 10-17:00 and costs £12.60.