Emma Hamilton Dancing
Curated by John Cooper
Clare-Mellon Fellow in the History of Art, Yale University
October 16, 2013 - April 4, 2014
In 1794 the dancing and Attitudes, or expressive postures, performed by Emma Hamilton (1761?-1815) were rendered in twelve neoclassical images engraved by Thomas Piroli after drawings by Frederick Rehberg. After the death of her husband Sir William Hamilton in 1803 and that of her lover Admiral Lord Nelson in 1805, Emma Hamilton and her Attitudes were the subject of a second, ‘enlarged’ edition of parodies by James Gillray in 1807 in which her person was dramatically inflated. Emma Hamilton Dancing displays these two editions beside each other for the first time.
Emma Hamilton Dancing presents these Attitudes among images of the tarantella, the waltz, minuet, cotillion, and quadrille as well as prints of ballet dancing in the age of the ballet d’action and works on the theory and practice of dancing. In this context, the Attitudes are seen moving within the world of dancing in ballrooms and onstage in Europe during the era of revolution in America, France and the Kingdom of Naples.