Thursday 24 March 2011

A Famous "Ménage ä Trois": Emma, The Antiquarian and Volcanist Lord and The National Hero

Details of Emma's early life are unclear, but at age 12, she was known to be working as a maid at the Hawarden home of Doctor Honoratus Leigh Thomas, a surgeon working in Chester

Still only fifteen years old, Emma met Sir Harry Featherstonhaugh who hired her for several months as hostess and entertainer at a lengthy stag party at Sir Harry's Uppark country estate in the South Downs. She is said to have entertained Harry and his friends by dancing naked on the dining room table.[1] Sir Harry took Emma there as mistress but frequently ignored her in favour of drinking and hunting with his friends. Emma soon formed a friendship with one of the guests, the dull but sincere Honourable Charles Francis Greville (1749–1809), second son of the first Earl of Warwick and a member of Parliament for Warwick. It was about this time (late June-early July 1781) that she conceived a child by Sir Harry.

Sir Harry was furious at the unwanted pregnancy but is thought to have accommodated Emma in one of his many houses in London. Emma gave up on Sir Harry: probably at this time she had formed a romantic attachment to Greville. He was closer to her in age, and she might have believed that he was able to marry her. Emma became Greville's mistress. When the child (Emma Carew) was born, she was removed to be raised by a Mr and Mrs Blackburn.[2] As a young woman, Emma's daughter saw her mother reasonably frequently, but later when Emma fell into debt, Miss Carew worked abroad as a companion or governess

Emma was at Greville's mercy and acceded to his request to change her name to "Emma Hart". Greville kept Emma in a house at Edgeware Row, but he was in love with her and, wanting a painting of her, sent her to sit for his friend, the painter George Romney. Romney painted many of his most famous portraits of Emma at this time. Indeed, Romney maintained a lifelong obsession with her, sketching her nude and clothed in many poses that he used in paintings he made in her absence. Through the popularity of Romney's work and particularly of his striking-looking young model, Emma became well known in society circles, under the name of "Emma Hart". She learned quickly and was elegant, witty and intelligent. And, as paintings of her attest, Emma was also extremely beautiful.

George Romney was fascinated by her looks and ability to adapt to the ideals of the age. Romney and other artists painted her in many guises.

In 1783, Greville needed to find a rich wife to replenish his finances (in the form of eighteen-year-old heiress Henrietta Middleton). Emma would be a problem, as he disliked being known as her lover (this having become apparent to all through her fame in Romney's artworks), and his prospective wife would not accept him as a suitor if he lived openly with Emma Hart.

To be rid of Emma, Greville persuaded his uncle, Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy to Naples, to take her off his hands. Greville's marriage would be useful to Sir William, as it relieved him of having Greville as a poor relation. To promote his plan, Greville suggested to Sir William that Emma would make a very pleasing mistress, assuring him that, once married to Henrietta Middleton, he would come and fetch Emma back. Emma's famous beauty was by then well-known to Sir William, so much so that he even agreed to pay the expenses for her journey to ensure her speedy arrival. He was interested in her, as a great collector of antiquities and beautiful objects, and that was how he first viewed Emma. He had long been a happily married man, now in his mid-fifties, and he liked female companionship very much. His home in Naples was well known all over the world for hospitality and refinement. He needed a hostess for his salon, and from what he knew about Emma, she would be the perfect choice.

As Sir William's mistress, Emma developed what she called her "Attitudes", using Romney's idea of combining classical poses with modern allure as the basis for her act. This eventual cross between postures, dance, and acting, was first revealed in Spring 1787 by Sir William to a large group of European guests at his home in Naples, who quickly took to this new form of entertainment - guessing the names of the classical characters and scenes which Emma portrayed.

For her "Attitudes", Emma had her dressmaker make dresses modeled on those worn by peasant islanders in the Bay of Naples, and on loose-fitting garments such as she wore when modeling for Romney. The performance was a sensation across Europe. Using a few shawls, she posed as various classical figures from Medea to Queen Cleopatra, and her performances charmed aristocrats, artists such as Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, writers — including the great Johann Wolfgang von Goethe — and kings and queens alike, setting off new dance trends across Europe and starting a fashion for a draped Grecian style of dress.

Nelson returned to Naples five years later, on 22 September 1798 (with stepson, Josiah, who was in his early twenties), a living legend, after his victory at the Battle of the Nile in Aboukir. However, Nelson's adventures had prematurely aged him: he had lost an arm and most of his teeth, and was afflicted by coughing spells. Emma reportedly flung herself upon him in admiration, calling out, "Oh God, is it possible?", as she fainted against him. Nelson wrote effusively of Emma to his increasingly estranged wife, Lady Fanny Nelson
Emma nursed Nelson under her husband's roof, and arranged a party with 1,800 guests to celebrate his 40th birthday. They soon fell in love and their affair seems to have been tolerated, and perhaps even encouraged, by the elderly Sir William, who showed nothing but admiration and respect for Nelson, and vice-versa. Emma Hamilton and Horatio Nelson were by now the two most famous Britons in the world. They were not only in love with each other, but admired each other to the point of adulation. They were, so to speak, also in love with both their own fame, and that of their lover.

He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a member of the Society of Dilettanti. His other books include Antiquités étrusques, grecques et romaines (1766–67) and Observations on Mount Vesuvius (1772).

Sir William Hamilton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1766 and published his paper "Campi Phlegraei: Observations on the Volcanoes of the Two Sicilies" in the same year. He made more than 65 ascents of Mount Vesuvius and made a number of drawings before its eruption in 1767. The Royal Society awarded him the Copley Medal in 1770 for his paper, "An Account of a Journey to Mount Etna".

Sir William Hamilton,(12 January 1731 – 6 April 1803) was a Scottish diplomat, antiquarian, archaeologist and vulcanologist.

In 1786, a stunning young lady was sent to Sir William by his nephew, Charles Greville, in exchange for him settling Greville's debts. Like most of the men who wandered into her orbit, Sir William was smitten with Emma Lyon, who performed dances inspired by classical elements for himself and his guests, including Goethe, while wearing no undergarments. However, he made no advances until she was ready to accept him. They married on 6 September 1791 at St Marylebone Church, London. He was 60; she was 26. She later became the lover of Horatio Nelson, a man Sir William admired greatly, and whose liaison he reportedly encouraged.

After serving as Member of Parliament for Midhurst from 1761, he left his seat to become Britain's ambassador to the court of Naples from 1764 to 1800. During this time he studied local volcanic activity and earthquakes, and wrote a book on the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. He collected Greek vases and other antiquities, selling part of his collection to the British Museum in 1772. A small part of his second collection went down with HMS Colossus while being transported to Britain in 1798. The surviving part of the second collection was catalogued for sale at auction at Christie's when at the eleventh hour Thomas Hope stepped in and purchased the remains of Hamilton's second collection of mostly South Italian vases

More Britons want Prince Charles to become Britain's next monarch than his son William

(Reuters) - More Britons want Prince Charles to become Britain's next monarch than his son William despite the huge interest in his upcoming wedding and previous suggestions he was the popular choice, a poll on Thursday said.

Shortly after William's engagement to girlfriend Kate Middleton was announced last November, two polls showed a majority of Britons thought he should succeed the Queen and not heir-to-the-throne Charles.

However, according to a YouGov survey for Prospect Magazine released on Thursday, that sentiment has now been reversed.

The poll of 2,409 people found the public would prefer Charles to be the next king by a 45 to 37 margin, a reversal of a similar survey in 2005 which backed William by 41-37.

Prospect suggested one possible reason for the reversal was that the public felt William and Middleton should be allowed to enjoy as normal-as-possible a life after their April 29 wedding.

British constitutional expert Norman St John-Stevas said there was no possibility that the throne could bypass Charles in any case.

"It would be a major breach of our constitution," he told Reuters TV.

"It would weaken the monarchy, it would make Prince William's task infinitely more difficult, it would be an act of gross injustice to Prince Charles who has done so much for the monarchy."

The poll also found that support for scrapping the monarchy had ebbed away. Shortly after the death of Charles's wife Diana in 1997, when there was widespread anger at the royal family, a quarter of Britons wanted to get rid of them.

The survey found that figure was down to 13 percent.

There was also strong support for an overhaul to a 300-year-old law which gives primacy to male heirs to the British throne.

The poll showed that by a 75-17 percent margin, the public thought the eldest child of the monarch, whatever their sex, should succeed.

(Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Paul Casciato)

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Kenneth Clark: 'A Stick in the Mud...'

Heroic Materialism Kenneth Clark

Remembering a great BBC moment ... Civilisation by Kenneth Clark

Civilisation: A Personal View (often called simply Civilisation) was a popular and influential TV series outlining the history of Western art, architecture, and philosophy since the Dark Ages. It was produced by the BBC and aired in 1969 on BBC Two. The series was written and presented by art historian Kenneth Clark (1903-1983) who also published a companion book under the same title.

The series’ groundbreaking format, in which Clark travelled around the world to illustrate his thesis, became a template for such later programmes as The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski, Life on Earth and sequels by David Attenborough, Alistair Cooke’s America, and Cosmos by Carl Sagan

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Goethe and Schiller at Weimar

In 1794, nearly six years after Goethe's first interview with Schiller, the two came together again, this time only to be separated by death, and here was the most powerful influence which had thus far affected the lives of the two poets; for the closeness of the intimacy is almost without a parallel in literary history. Schiller, though not yet at the height of his reputation, had written many of the works which have made him famous, when he settled at Weimar in 1787. But he found the place deserted, Goethe being in Italy and the duke in the Prussian camp. It was chiefly on the recommendation of the former that he was appointed professor of history in the university of Jena, and this office he accepted somewhat reluctantly, fearful, as he says, lest the scholars should discover that they knew more history than the teacher. Soon afterward he married, and set to work on his History of the Thirty Year's War, contributing also, as did Goethe, after his return, to Cotta's new literary journal, the Horen.

It was not long before the close intimacy with a spirit as restlessly creative as his own began to show itself in Goethe's return to poetry. Having now the aid of Schiller's intelligent criticism, he completed his Wilhelm Meister, the plan of which he had conceived twenty years before, adding two more to the six books written before the Italian tour. The entire work, which has been admirably translated by Carlyle, is in the nature of a philosophical romance, and stands in the first rank of Goethe's writings. His aim was to attain perfect objectivity of tone, to represent men as they are and to pass no judgement upon them. It is a singular compound of pictures of life, so plain and realistic that they sometimes become actually coarse, with theories of society, labor and education so refined that they frequently lose all practical character. The hero passes with weak irresolution through a number of ordinary circumstances, apparently the sport of fortune and the plaything of chance; yet all these experiences have their definite result in the training of his character. Like the son of Kish, he goes forth to seek his father's asses and finds a kingdom. The unearthly charm of the child Mignon, the dark fate which surrounds the aged harper, like the doom of Oedipus, the uncertain yearning after a happier home in brighter climes gives a deeper undertone to the prevailing lightness of the story. The faults of the story are as positive as its beauties; but it has no antetype in literature. The style is exquisitely soft and flowing, with all the sweetness and simplicity of Werther, but more mellow and mature. In the sixth book is a piece of the autobiography of Fräulein von Klettenberg, altered to suit its new environment. It was of her that Goethe wrote: "My Klettenberg is dead! She who was so much to me!"

The period of Goethe's closest intimacy with Schiller, though the two were in daily cooperation, left but little of permanent worth from the former poet. On the other hand these are the years of Schiller's greatest activity. It was at this time that he produced his Wallenstein trilogy, probably his grandest effort, followed by Marie Stuart, Jungfrau von Orleans, Braut von Messina and Wilhelm Tell. In 1799 a dramatic school was established at Weimar, and these classical dramas were the glory of its stage. Of a proposed epic, whose theme was Achilles, Goethe completed only the first canto, and it had no successor. He then devoted himself to the works of others, translating and preparing the Mahomet and Tancred of Voltaire for the Leipsic theatre. After recovering from a dangerous illness, he sketched the outline of a trilogy dealing with the French revolution; but of this only the first part, the Natürliche Tochter, was completed. The story is a true one of a princess of the French house of Conti. The play is written with the full beauty of Goethe's style, and some passages and effects are worthy of his highest genius; but, as a whole, it is a failure. It has the quality so characteristic of Goethe's later work, of too great universality of treatment--a serious drawback in a drama. The characters are not living beings but abstractions, and the language is vague and general rather than clear and defined.



Goethe's Huis

Schiller's House

Wallis and David `encore`


Wednesday September 22,2010 in Express
By Simon Edge
IT WAS a secret retreat of the exiled Edward and Mrs Simpson, now restored with the help of a woman with her own royal connection
Every weekend from the early Fifties onwards the Duke and Duchess of Windsor would leave their 19th-century villa in the Bois de Boulogne, on the outskirts of Paris, in a regal Daimler.
Close behind came a pale blue Cadillac bearing the ­Duchess’s luggage, four pug dogs and two maids.
Their destination was Le Moulin de la Tuilerie, a converted 18th-century mill house 20 miles to the south-west. Offering a refuge from the public exposure of their house in the Bois where they felt like “animals in a gilded zoo” it was the only house they ever owned and their only real home.
It was a distinctly un-French corner of France, where the Duke spoke German to his French, Spanish and Alsatian gardeners and the American-born Duchess nagged her cooks to use more tinned and frozen food.
And it has now been preserved as a piece of England-in-exile. Restored, it has been passed to a British charity, the Landmark Trust.
Stripped of the Duchess’s eccentric décor – “chi-chi and overdone”, as photographer Cecil Beaton put it – the house has now been refurbished as holiday lets. “Through its association with Edward and Wallis this lovely site has great international resonance for British, French and Americans,” says Peter Pearce, the Trust’s director.
By coincidence, it could not have happened without the daughter of another famous exile from the Windsor court, Group Captain Peter Townsend, Princess Margaret’s lover.
Once the darling of the British Empire, Edward VIII renounced the British throne in 1936 after reigning for less than 11 months. Senior courtiers had long been worried by his affairs with married women and his private callousness and his pro-Nazi sympathies made him a serious liability when Hitler came to power.
His determination to marry a twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson raised a genuine constitutional difficulty but it was a problem only for those who wanted him to remain king. Behind the scenes, it was regarded as something of a godsend.
Marrying in 1937, the newly created Duke and Duchess of Windsor paid a high-profile visit to Germany where they were fawned upon by the regime. “It’s a shame he is no longer king,” wrote Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. “With him we could have entered into an alliance.”
The Duke spent the war as Governor of the Bahamas – a humiliation designed to put him out of harm’s way – and afterwards the couple accepted an invitation from France to settle tax-free in Paris. They bought the Mill, as they called it, in 1952.
Part of the attraction was the gardens straddling the stream where the Duke enjoyed tending his showy beds of flowers. “It is a very tranquil place where one can garden as one should in old clothes, with one’s hands among familiar plants,” he said. The landscape designer Russell Page, who was also responsible for the gardens at Badminton Park and Longleat, was brought in to remodel the natural features.
The interior was the Duchess’s preserve. “Most of the mill was tacky but that’s what Wallis had – tacky, southern taste, much too overdone, much too elaborate,” said interior decorator Billy Baldwin, a fellow American.
Diana Mosley, wife of the British fascist leader Sir Oswald, who was also exiled in Paris and a frequent visitor to the Mill, recalled: “It was very bright with patterned carpets, lots of apricot and really much more Palm Beach than English or French.”
Other visitors referred to rooms draped like circus tents and tartan carpets and fashion writer Suzy Menkes called it “pioneer homestead meets the American Dream”.
Despite the unfortunate décor the glitterati of the age were happy to accept invitations. Guests included Maria Callas, Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Beaton was given his own separate cottage, dubbed “the bachelor pad”, where he could bring male companions. It was perhaps his presence that prompted the Duchess, when a guest admired the Duke’s pansies, to remark: “In the garden or at my table?”
A cookbook the Duchess tried to write gives a glimpse of what her guests could expect to be served. Her Sauce Liberal, to be served with cold lobster mousse, consisted of mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, double cream and a large quantity of gin. Her Avocado Pears Tahiti involved filling the centre of an avocado with rum and brown sugar.
“I wonder often if American housewives appreciate their good fortune in having so many excellent frozen foods,” she wrote.
“In France, these foods are few and expensive. Inevitably this must change when electric refrigeration becomes more general. In our household I have waged a long fight on behalf of frozen foods.”
Her husband, who poked fun at his wife’s pronunciation by referring to himself as “the Dook”, liked to read National Geographic magazine. He also reminisced about his glory days as the glamorous Prince of Wales.
He died in 1972 and the Duchess put the Mill on the market a year later. Maria Callas considered buying it but in the end it was sold for $1.3million to a Swiss banker, who died bankrupt and heirless. In 1980 the French state seized his assets and sold the Mill at auction to a Lebanese industrialist.
When it last changed hands in 2006 it had been uninhabited for four years, with goats roaming the buildings, garden paths overgrown and box hedges choked with nettles. Renovation was begun by Patrick Deedes and his wife Isabelle, whose father was Group Captain Peter Townsend. He too, as a divorcé, was deemed unsuitable to marry a royal, in his case Princess Margaret.
“Dad and Margaret were the biggest story of their day, just as the Windsors were of theirs,” says Isabelle, an ex-model for Ralph Lauren and Hermès.
Townsend went on to marry a Belgian, Isabelle’s mother, and he was a regular visitor to the Mill when the Windsors lived there. They even named a pug after him. Isabelle and her family are now tenants of the Mill’s gatehouse.
The main house and two adjoining outbuildings are now leased to the Landmark Trust and are available to rent from this month as holiday lets. “While we have not attempted to recreate the Windsors’ bright and eclectic furnishings and décor we have furnished the house, like them, with an echo of Englishness and with much to recall their happy times there,” a spokeswoman says. Sleeping 12, the main house will cost you £2,800 to rent next week.
A mural commissioned by the Duchess, who died in 1986, reads: “I’m not the miller’s daughter but I have been through the mill.” It remains on the wall of the large first-floor living room.
It’s a self-deprecating memorial to a woman vilified in Britain for keeping a king from his throne but who probably did the country a favour in the long run.