Lady Hamilton’s Youth (Part 3)

➡️Part 1
➡️Part 2

In 1780, when she was fifteen, Amy or Emy Lyon met twenty-six-year old Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh, a good friend of the Prince of Wales (later King George IV), who hired her to entertain his guests at the many parties he hosted at his country house. Here she had her own suite of rooms, a great luxury for a girl who had probably never had a room to her own before.
Here she danced naked on the dining table to entertain his wealthy guests.

When he moved to London for the winter season, he took her with him as a permanent mistress.
But she didn’t stay with him for long because in 1781 she was sent away, penniless and six months pregnant.

Her only chance of survival was to find another ‘protector’, so she decided to write a desperate, pleading letter to one of Sir Harry’s friends, Charles Greville. nephew of Sir William Hamilton.

Greville agreed to take her in on the condition that the child, Emma Carew, was fostered out, and Amy became his mistress. He also asked her to repent of her previous boisterous life, to avoid any social life, and to become a pure, meek and virtuous woman. Her clothes were to be sober, modest and in subdued colours. He also arranged for her mother to go and live with her as housekeeper and chaperone. Amy agreed and he installed her and her mother in a country house in Paddington Green
Another request was to change her name to “Mrs Emma Hart” while her mother was to be called Mrs Cadogan. Some authors think that Emma’s new name was an allusion to the town of Harting near which he lived, others instead put forward a symbolic interpretation based on the transformation from Lyon to Hart, from huntress to hunted.

Greville also decided to educate her and taught her to speak in a more refined way . One day, he took her to George Romney‘s studio, where he was sitting for his own portrait.
Romney, the most fashionable artist of his day, was looking for a new model and muse and was fascinated by Emma’s beauty and innate theatricality. Hundreds of sittings followed, during which he painted more than 60 portraits of her in various poses, sometimes also playing the part of historical or mythological characters

She was witty, intelligent, elegant and, extremely beautiful, and soon became well known in London high society.

A lot of other artists painted her in many poses, , which seems to foreshadow her later “attitudes“.


To be continued

Nel 1780, quando aveva quindici anni, Amy o Emy Lyon conobbe il ventiseienne Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh, un amico del Principe di Galles (poi re Giorgio IV) che la ingaggiò perché intrattenesse i suoi ospiti alle numerose feste che dava nella sua residenza di campagna. Qui la ragazza aveva la sua suite di stanze, un gran lusso per una che probabilmente non aveva mai avuto una stanza tutta per sé prima.
Qui veniva fatta ballare, nuda, sul tavolo da pranzo per far divertire i suoi ricchi ospiti.

Quando si trasferì a Londra per la stagione invernale, la portò con sé, come amante stabile. Ma non rimase a lungo con lui perché nel 1781 fu mandata via, senza un soldo e incinta di sei mesi.

La sua unica possibilità di sopravvivenza stava nel trovare un altro “protettore”, per cui decise di scrivete una lettera disperata e supplichevole a uno degli amici di Sir Harry, Charles Greville, nipote di Sir William Hamilton.

Greville accettò di accoglierla a condizione che la bambina, Emma Carew, fosse data in affidamento e che Amy diventasse la sua amante. Le chiese anche di pentirsi della sua precedente vita sregolata, di evitare una qualsiasi vita sociale e di diventare una donna pura, mite e morigerata. I suoi abiti dovevano essere sobri, modesti e dai colori tenui. Inoltre dispose che la madre andasse a vivere con lei in qualità di governante e accompagnatrice. Amy acconsentì e lui installò lei e la madre in una casa di campagna a Paddington Green.
Un’altra sua richiesta fu che cambiasse il nome in “Mrs Emma Hart” mentre sua madre doveva essere chiamata signora Cadogan. Alcuni autori ritengono che il nuovo nome di Emma fosse un’allusione alla città di Harting vicino alla quale viveva, altri invece avanzano un’interpretazione simbolica che si basa sulla trasformazione da Lyon/ leone a Hart/cervo, cioè da cacciatrice a preda.

Greville decise anche di educarla e le insegnò a parlare in modo più raffinato. Un giorno la portò con sé nello studio di George Romney, l’artista più alla moda del tempo, che gli stava facendo un ritratto.
Romney era alla ricerca di una nuova modella e musa ispiratrice e rimase affascinata dalla bellezza e dall’innata teatralità di Emma. La fece posare in centinaia di sedute, in cui dipinse più di 60 ritratti di lei in varie pose, a volte interpretando anche la parte di personaggi mitologici o storici.
Era spiritosa, intelligente, elegante ed estremamente bella e ben presto divenne famosa nell’alta società londinese.

Molti altri artisti l’hanno dipinta in svariate pose, che sembrano prefigurare le sue successive “attitudini”.

Continua

Image: George Romney – Emma Hamilton (National Portrait Gallery, London) – This portrait is one of many that Romney kept back in his studio for his private delectation.

83 thoughts on “Lady Hamilton’s Youth (Part 3)

  1. Luisa ! Fifteen years old Amy Lyon used to dance naked on the dining table of the wealthy men of England , for she had first time got an independent luxurious suit of rooms for her to live in . It appears that the wealthy men of England in the 18th century were quite feudalistic . They also were gender oppressive , as when Ammy was taken to London by Sir Harry as her permanent mistress , she was sent back penniless and pregnant of six months . And helpless and in a miserable condition Amy Lyon moved here and there for her shelter . This inhuman treatment to her was simply because she was of poor orgin and illiterate . Thanks for continuing the series on Amy Lyon .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow. I am fascinated with every part of Amy Lyon’s story. Excellent. Looking forward to the next part, dear Luisa. A fabulous post. ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️😊😊😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an excellent third part Luisa! Thank you for sharing this with us. I loved that small but significant detail about the symbolism of her name change. Wow, what a young life Emma lived with so much packed in, in such a short time! Looking forward to the next part already! Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Davvero interessanti tutti questi articoli che stai dedicando alla storia della sua vita, com0l8n3n5i per tuttin8 d3ttagl8 che riesci a trovare su questa donna dal carattere piuttosto brillante e irrequieto. B79na serata cara Luisa 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This, truly, is what is termed as moving from grassroots to ‘graceroots’. Emma’s beauty and insistence kept putting her on high tables. She must have been a smashing beauty and a force to reckon with. I’m truly enjoying her episodes of rise, now from an actress to a guest entertainer, and from an entertainer to a model. 💖

      Liked by 2 people

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