The wife of Sir William Hamilton, mistress of Lord Horatio Nelson and muse of artist George Romney, Emma Hart Hamilton (c. 1765-1815) was known for her performances at private occasions of tableau-vivant, a series of poses, later called Attitudes, inspired by classical sculpture. Goethe described these performances in his Travels in Italy as follows:
“The old knight (Hamilton) has made a Greek costume for her which becomes her extremely. Dressed in this, letting her hair fall loose, and making use of a couple of shawls, she exhibits every possible variety of pose, expression, and aspect, so that in the end the spectator almost imagines himself in a dream… He (Hamilton) thinks he can see in her a likeness to all the most famous antiquities, to the beautiful profiles on Sicilian coins – yes, to the Apollo Belvedere itself!”
This print reproduces a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Lady Hamilton, with a garland of grape vines in her hair, poses as a bacchante, a follower of Bacchus, the god of wine.