Billet-Doux from Nelson to Emma Hamilton Exceeds Estimates

Posted in Art Market by Editor on November 19, 2012

Last week a letter sent from Lord Nelson to Lady Emma Hamilton during their affair sold for £20,000 — well above its estimate of £6,000-£8,000. The pre-sale press release from Bonhams (1 November 2012) . . .

Bonhams: Books, Maps, Manuscripts, and Photographs (Auction 20139)
London, 13 November 2012

A lasting piece of evidence of the affair between Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton is for sale with Bonhams in Knightsbridge, on 13th November. In the letter Nelson documents the turbulent love life between himself and his mistress, referring to a disagreement from the previous evening. He takes care to note his devotion to her and vows to defend her integrity amidst the scandal. At the time the letter has been roughly dated, Emma had given birth to their child and their affair was public. Despite Nelson’s wife’s demands, he refused to relinquish Emma as his mistress and eventually he left his wife. In the nineteenth century this was an unthinkable social affront and he aggravated the scandal further by choosing to live with Emma and their daughter upon his return from sea.

During the scandal Nelson urged Emma to destroy the letters sent between them, as he largely did. Emma, however, chose to keep her letters which were eventually published in 1814 contributing to her eventual downfall. Plagued by politics and social disgrace, their affair lasted only six years before Nelson’s death in 1805. After this tragic event, Emma was catapulted into a downward spiral and this letter is a delicate reminder of their love at the height of its devotion and is a rare living testament to their affair.

In June this year a marble chimneypiece from Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton’s home sold for £25,000 at New Bond Street, and this note is a further glimpse into the private world behind the public façade of one of Britain’s great naval leaders.

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Post-sale press release from Bonhams (14 November 2012) . . .

Bonhams Auction 20139, 13 November 2012

A letter sent from Lord Nelson to Lady Emma Hamilton during their affair sold for twice its estimate today of £6,000-£8,000 for £20,000 at Knightsbridge in the Books, Maps and Manuscripts sale.

In the letter, dated c.1801, Nelson documents his turbulent love life with his mistress, referring to a disagreement from the previous evening. He outlines his devotion to her and vows to defend her integrity amidst the scandal of their affair. After Nelson’s death in 1805, Emma was at the mercy of society’s judgment without his protection and this letter is a rare living testament to their affair.

The top lot for the sale was a first edition of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species (1859) which doubled its estimate of £15,000- £20,000 to sell for £45,650. As one of the most influential publications of the 19th century, this work marked a crucial turning point in modern science and this edition is a veritable collector’s item.

Darwin’s publication was followed closely by a first edition of Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler (1653). This work sold for £37,250 and is a very good copy of the most famous work in angling literature. The work is a unique celebration of angling and reflects Walton’s own desires to live a contemplative life.

Postdoctoral Fellowship in ‘Spatial Art History’

Posted in fellowships by Editor on November 19, 2012

ARTL@S Postdoctoral Fellowship in ‘Spatial Art History’
École normale supérieure, Paris, 1 September 2013 — 31 August 2015

Applications due by 7 January 2013

The École normale supérieure (Paris), the LabEx TransferS, and ARTL@S (a digital humanities project sponsored by the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche) are pleased to announce a two-year postdoctoral position in the field of Spatial Art History. The postdoctoral fellow will participate in the activities of ARTL@S (www.artlas.ens.fr) while developing an independent research project pertaining to related questions in this field. Through his or her involvement within the international and transdisciplinary ARTL@S team, the fellow will acquire valuable experience, gain expertise, and develop his or her academic network, thereby increasing potential career prospects within the international academic community.


The successful candidate will have a PhD in art history or in a related field (i.e. History, Geography, Sociology, etc…), received no earlier than 2008, and will specialize in issues related to geography of art, global art history, or cultural heritage in a transnational perspective. He or she may work on any region or period between the 18th and the 21st centuries; however, preference will be given to non-Western European and non-North-American projects, and/or world-art historical or global art-historical projects. Candidates are invited to propose research projects that can benefit from the tools ARTL@S has developed (quantitative and serial analysis, databases, geographical information systems (GIS), digital cartography). The right candidate will also demonstrate a keen interest in digital humanities, especially in databases and cartography.

While previous experience in these fields, along with web development and GIS, is not a prerequisite, basic knowledge and a willingness to acquire expertise in those areas is essential. The postdoctoral fellow will indeed have to work with the ARTL@S’ database, GIS interface and website.

Likewise, fluency in French is not required, but some basic knowledge and a commitment to learn French and become fluent while living in Paris is. Intensive courses can be taken by the successful candidate at École normale supérieure for free. (more…)

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