Emma Hart, Lady Hamilton as the Cumaean Sibyl

2 May 2020

Today’s painting by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun is one of her beautiful portraits of Emma Hart, Lady Hamilton, which was painted while the artist was living on Naples in 1792. This particular painting, which depicts the gorgeous Emma as the Cumaean Sibyl, was commissioned by Madame du Barry’s lover, the Duc de Brissac but was never delivered to him as he was murdered in the prison massacres in September of that year. Although this portrait is undoubtedly lovely, I think that I still prefer Romney’s wonderful paintings of Lady Hamilton.

The third sitting for this painting was attended by Aimée de Coligny, Duchesse de Fleury and Princesse Joseph de Monaco, who were living together in Naples at the time but would both return to Paris within the next twelve months – leading to the imprisonment of Aimée and the execution of her friend, the Princesse. I’ve been writing about them for my upcoming book about women guillotined during the Terror so this painting was a natural choice.

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