April 26, 2006

Gratuitous Royal Navy Geek Posting


Today is the birthday of Emma, Lady Hamilton, famed mistress of Lord Nelson, in 1765. Quite the stunner, she was supposed to be, as is evident by the number of men who fell about her feet. (She started out as a blacksmith's daughter but more or less became a professional mistress.)

Thinking of Nelson and Emma put me in mind again of this piece by James Gillray:

John Bull.gif

"John Bull Taking A Luncheon, Or, British Cooks Cramming Old Grumble Gizzard with Good Cheer."

It was published in 1798 and celebrates the series of triumphal Royal Navy victories over the French, capped off by Nelson's spectacular victory at the Nile (that is Nelson in the foreground to the right - various other leading lights of the Navy are portrayed as well). John Bull (the embodiment of the British Nation, rather akin to Uncle Sam I suppose) is saying "What? More frigasses - why, you sons o' bitches, you - where do ye think I shall find room to store all you bring me?" Meanwhile, Charles James Fox (whom I loathe) and his Jacobin-sympathizer friends are seen in panic outside the window.

Posted by Robert at April 26, 2006 12:03 PM | TrackBack

That's the first picture of her I've seen that I've liked, actually. She was quite the odd one, wasn't she?

Posted by: RP at April 26, 2006 01:37 PM

The film starred Vivien Leigh, if i'm not mistaken, and is always how I picture her.

Posted by: The Colossus at April 26, 2006 02:09 PM

This is one of the umpteen portraits done of her by George Romney. Here, she is supposed to represent Ariadne, a somewhat more modest and respectable figure than the usual Bacchanaliates, witches (Circe) and whatnot that Romney seems to have indulged in.

Yes, Vivian Leigh did star as Emma, opposite Lawrence Olivier. I've never seen the film, but the idea of Larry as Nelson seems rather absurd.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at April 26, 2006 02:15 PM