Portrait of Emma Hart, Later Lady Hamilton (1765–1803)
Nathaniel Marchant (British, active Rome and Naples, born Sussex 1739–1816 London)
Smoky chalcedony, silver-gilt
Overall: 1 3/16 x 15/16 x 13/16 in. (3 x 2.4 x 2.1 cm); visible cameo (confirmed): 27.3 x 21 mm
The Milton Weil Collection, 1940
Not on view
Neoclassical Europe appreciated Nathaniel Marchant's emulation of the best in Greco-Roman form and his glyptic perfectionism, with results not unlike our a late 1st century cameo in the Museum's collection (10.110.1). In 1786–87 he visited Naples, where the beauteous Emma Hart was the current rage. Artists crowded the rooms of her protector, Sir William Hamilton: "The house is full of painters painting me," Emma wrote. "Marchant is cutting my head in stone, that is in cameo for a ring. . . . All the artists is coming from Rome to study from me." Either Marchant cut both a cameo and an intaglio or the unlettered Emma confused the two. The Grecian headdress is in keeping with her famous "attitudes," poses she struck based on masterpieces of antiquity.
Signature: Incised, reversed, above left shoulder: MARCHANT