WESTALL, Richard
(b. 1765, Hertford, d. 1836, London)

Emma Hamilton as a Bacchante

Oil on canvas, 76 x 64 cm
Private collection

Emma Lyon (1765-1815) was the daughter of Henry Lyon, a blacksmith. (She later changed her name to Emma Hart.) She became Lady Hamilton when in 1791 married Sir William Hamilton who was in his fifties. She is best remembered as the mistress of Lord Nelson and as the muse of George Romney.

In the present painting, exhibited in 1806 at the Royal Academy, Westall relies on the prototypes of the French Elizabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun who also captures Lady Hamilton's flirtatiousness in a striking image (National Museums, Liverpool). The painting shows the irrepressible Emma once more throwing convention to the wind, much as she had dome for her portrait by Vigee-Lebrun.