He was a war hero and an admiral, she the great beauty of her age. The problem was they were both married to others. Now a new exhibition at Greenwich's Royal Maritime Museum remembers the story and the scandal of Emma Hamilton and Lord Nelson.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1. What was Emma Hamilton’s father’s job?
2. Who was George Romney?
3. Why was Emma Hamilton painted?
4. Where did the affair between Emma and Lord Nelson begin?
5. Who lived in Merton Place, in South West London, according to rumours?
6. When did Emma find Merton Place?
7. What was Emma’s financial situation when she died?
Lord Nelson, held in the highest esteem, whose passions ran deep for a blacksmith's daughter, Emma Hamilton. Her stunning looks set her apart. Then this man, George Romney, the most fashionable painter of the day, came across the young beauty and at his studios here, in Cavendish Square, she became his muse.
And the 18th century was a remarkable time for an explosion in print culture…
Mass produced, cheap black-and-white prints of George Romney's paintings then made Emma a pin-up. It was like Hello magazine for the first time.
She is naturally beautiful, which is the reason she was painted, one of the reasons she was painted in the first place. And those images are carried through to sort of the broader public.
So printing technology and prints of Emma Hamilton made her a celebrity.
Fame made her desirable and led to marriage with this man, Sir William Hamilton, the British envoy to Naples. It was here that Norfolk's favourite son, the hero of the day, Lord Nelson, stopped for supplies and an enduring love affair began. It was like a Hollywood romance, but it also fuelled another familiar feature of modern-day life: scandal.
Sir William watches as lovers carry on!
Nelson and Lady Hamilton in love tryst!
Gossip was rife, not only was Nelson married, the lovers conducted their affair openly, in front of Sir Williams. There were rumours the three of them lived together here at Merton Place, in South West London, which Nelson and Emma had bought for their future. Now it’s an old council estate but then it was Paradise Merton, a place in the country away from all the chatter.
In 1800, Emma Nelson and Sir William come back to live in England and Nelson instructs Emma to find him and her a country pad where they can live out their future days together. And so in 1801, she finds Merton Place, and it's the love nest that they hoped for, which they call Paradise Merton.
But it didn’t last for long. After losing his eye, and then an arm, Nelson's luck ran out. Shot dead, Kiss me Hardy, and the rest, of course, is history. For Emma, the high life ended too, crippled by debt, dying in poverty but her legacy will always be one half of one of the world's greatest love affairs.
Jim Wheeble, BBC London News.
2 a painter / the most fashionable painter of the day
3 because she was very beautiful
4 In Naples / Italy
5 Lord Nelson, Emma and her husband
6 in 1801
7 she was poor