The artist Carl Christian Kanz is best-known for his depictions of voluptuous women. The present enamel may represent Emma, Lady Hamilton, who had the opportunity to sit to Kanz on her travels home from Naples. Other examples of Kanz’s work apparently showing the same subject are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Metropolitan of Art Museum, New York, and Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris.

Model, muse, performance artist and mistress of Admiral Lord Nelson, Lady Hamilton was the most celebrated woman of her age, and the one most represented by painters throughout Europe, from Joshua Reynolds and George Romney to Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun. The 1794 publication of Lady Hamilton’s eroticised ‘Attitudes’ with illustrations by the German artist Frederick Rehberg aroused still further, largely lascivious, interest in her. During her overland journey home from Naples in 1800, Emma Hamilton was painted in Vienna by Henry Füger (1751-1818) and in Dresden by Johann Heinrich Schmidt (1749-1829). She...

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The artist Carl Christian Kanz is best-known for his depictions of voluptuous women. The present enamel may represent Emma, Lady Hamilton, who had the opportunity to sit to Kanz on her travels home from Naples. Other examples of Kanz’s work apparently showing the same subject are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Metropolitan of Art Museum, New York, and Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris.

Model, muse, performance artist and mistress of Admiral Lord Nelson, Lady Hamilton was the most celebrated woman of her age, and the one most represented by painters throughout Europe, from Joshua Reynolds and George Romney to Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun. The 1794 publication of Lady Hamilton’s eroticised ‘Attitudes’ with illustrations by the German artist Frederick Rehberg aroused still further, largely lascivious, interest in her. During her overland journey home from Naples in 1800, Emma Hamilton was painted in Vienna by Henry Füger (1751-1818) and in Dresden by Johann Heinrich Schmidt (1749-1829). She was also represented on porcelain by the Konigliche Porzellan-Manufaktur in Berlin which directly copied Rehberg’s images.

Unlike the many portraits of Emma Hamilton which were disseminated and popularised through print culture, Kanz used the intimate medium of enamel painting to show her in déshabillé, in an object presumably designed for sharing in private within élite circles.

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500 Years of British Art