Lady Emma Hamilton – in Berlin Iron
An undocumented early 19th century Berlin iron bracelet, not recorded in any literature on Berlin iron jewellery and without a parallel example in a museum collection. It portays Lady Emma Hamilton [1765 – 1815], mistress of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar. Nelson’s affair with Emma Hamilton was the biggest scandal of the age. He was captivated by the beautiful Emma and she had a crucial influence on the hero, encouraging him to seize his chance of glory and fame. The bracelet clasp depicts Emma in profile, her hair bound up in a bandeau, in the manner of the Babylonian Queen Semiramis, a legendary femme fatale. The iron cameo is set on a polished steel ground. The Gothic-arch bracelet links are identical to those used by Geiss, illustrated on page 105 of Schmuttermeier’s, Cast Iron From Central Europe. There are parallel depictions of Emma by Tassie in the Royal Greenwich Museum collection and in cameo in the Sommerville collection, illustrated in Berges, Höchste Schönheit und einfache Grazie – Klassizistische Gemmen und Kameen der Sammlung Maxwell-Sommerville, no. 153. The bracelet is 7 and 1/4 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. The clasp measures 1 and 2/3 inches by 2 and 1/8 inches. In immaculate and rust free condition.
Emma Hamilton by Tassie, Greenwich Museum
Emma Hamilton in cameo, Sommerville collection.
Portrait of Emma Hamilton, Met Museum
Geiss jewellery elements, depicting the bracelet’s links