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Mezzotint Engraving of Emma Hart as Circe, 1895
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Mezzotint Engraving of Emma Hart as Circe, 1895

Measurements: Overall: 59cm (23.25in) x 54cm (21.5in)



Engraver’s proof mezzotint of Emma Hart as Circe after George Romney’s portrait of 1782. Contained in a glazed Hogarth frame. Inscribed upper left ‘London Published 1895 by Henry Graves & Co., the proprietors. Publishers to H.M. the Queen and to T.R.H. the Prince and Princess of Wales. 6, Pall Mall. Copyright 1895 by The British Art Publishers Union, Ltd., New York, J. Shefbold & Co. Berlin.’ Blind stamp to the margin lower left . Signed in pencil on the recto by the engraver, H. O. Greenhead.

Merdon Manor, nr. Winchester, Hampshire

Emma Hart (1765-1815), mistress of Lord Nelson and muse of George Romney, is depicted as the mythological Circe, the enchantress who with her vast knowledge of potions and herbs transformed her enemies into wild beasts.  After her abandonment by Sir Harry Fetherstonehaugh in 1781, 16 year-old Emma was taken into the ‘care’ of the Hon. Charles Greville. Leaving her illegimate daughter with relatives, she became Greville’s mistress and was installed in a house at Paddington Green in the name of Mrs. Emma Hart. In April 1782, Greville took her to George Romney to sit for her portrait. Though Greville hoped to commission a series of pictures of Emma as a commercial speculation it was Emma and Romney gained most from the meeting.

Henry Greenhead (1849-1926) was an engraver who revived the mezzotint, a technique in which he showed himself the equal of his forerunners.