Horatia was accepted into the Nelson family
after Emma’s death and was recognized as his
daughter.17 She married the Rev. Philip Ward in
1822. They often used the hyphenated name Nelson
Ward and lived a long life together. Emma
had lost virtually all of their possessions in her
fi nancial distress, but Horatia attempted to reacquire
at least a few things. Other Nelson items
may have come back into her line of descent
through the marriage of one of Horatia’s sons
to the granddaughter of one of Nelson’s sisters.
Nelson artifacts, including the portrait of Horatia
that hung in Nelson’s cabin in HMS Victory
(fi g. 17), unquestionably passed through the Nelson
Ward family, and the Nelson-Ward Collection
at the National Maritime Museum, gifted by
the Rev. Hugh Nelson Ward in 1947,18 includes a
considerable amount of material reportedly from
Merton Place. Though the details are uncertain,
clearly some connection was in place by which
the Nelson-Ward family managed to either retain
or reacquire some of the admiral’s property, but
we can only speculate what route the penu may
have taken to stay in the family in the chaotic
years that followed Nelson’s death.
If all this is what has surrounded this penu
during its last 250 years in the West, imagine the
hands that it passed through and the events it was
witness to during its untold years in Tahiti.
1. With thanks to Lynda McLeod, associate director, librarian,
Christie’s Archives, and Susan Kloman, international director of
the department of African and Oceanic art at Christie’s. Also to
Tim Teuten and Hermione Waterfi eld.
2. Nelson artifacts occasionally come to auction. Christie’s
King Street sale of October 19, 2005, commemorated the
200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Apart from
correspondence, a silver spoon, a chamber candlestick, a
pre-1797 marquetry panel from the Nelson-Ward family, and
a couple of locks of hair were among the items personally
associated with Nelson. None of these fetched extraordinary
prices. On the other hand, Nelson’s leather armchair from
HMS Victory, a gift from Emma Hamilton, sold at Bonhams on
October 18, 2017, for £106,250.
3. George Romney alone is thought to have painted more than
sixty portraits of Emma following their fi rst meeting through
George Greville in 1782. Others include Sir Joshua Reynolds,
Thomas Lawrence, Gavin Hamilton, Angelica Kauffmann, and
Vigée le Brun, some of whom visited the Hamiltons in Naples
for the purpose.
4. George Greville, Second Earl of Warwick, was an art collector of
impressive scale, but his efforts appear to have been primarily
focused on building an extensive collection of fi ne portraiture.
His brother, Charles, is known to have had a personal
connection with Sir Joseph Banks (see fi g. 14 as well as their
correspondence) and is thought to have been
the conduit by which the early Oceanic material
entered the Warwick Castle collection. Both of
the brothers had a personal connection with their
uncle, Sir William Hamilton, who is probably
responsible for much of the Classical antiquities
collection at Warwick Castle, including the famed
“Warwick Vase.” A detailed discussion of this can
be found in footnote 1 for record number 278,
“‘Aumakua (sorcery image)” on the George Ortiz
Collection website, https://www.georgeortiz.com/
(accessed April 2018).
5. W. Clark Russell (ed.), Nelson’s Words and
Deeds, London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, &
Rivington, Ltd, 1890, pp. 106–107.
6. A second child, born in 1803, did not live.
7. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italienische
Reise, entry for July 10, 1787.
8. Many of Nelson’s letters bitterly lament his ill luck in terms of
prize money, a substantial income aid to many in the Royal
Navy based on captured ships and their cargos. Nelson’s
letter to Lord Minto dated August 29, 1798, complains that
the former received no prize money for the French fl agship,
L’Orient, at the Battle of the Nile, which was carrying some
£600,000 in silver and gems, because the ship exploded during
the engagement. However, he apparently received the ship’s
fl agstaff, which was salvaged by Capt. Samuel Hood and later
reported by Minto as being on display at Merton Park. Russell,
op cit., p. 104–105.
9. Though Hamilton’s importance to the group may be inferred
from his central position in Reynolds’ portrait, he was rarely
able to attend gatherings because he resided in Naples.
10. Ezio Bassani, Cook: Polinesia a Napoli nel Settecento,
Bologna: Calderini, 1984.
11. Bassani’s analysis suggests that many of these artifacts were
most likely from Cook’s second voyage (1772–1775), though
the Parkinson illustration proves that some are from the fi rst
12. National Library of Australia, MS 9-Papers of Sir Joseph Banks,
1745–1923 (bulk 1745–1820) manuscript./Series 3/Item 114.
13. See Adrienne Kaeppler’s various detailed works on this subject.
14. If we need further evidence of his lack of ambition as an art
collector, Nelson sent a breakdown of his income and expenses
to the Right Hon. H. Addington on March 8, 1803. This shows
him to be deeply in debt and with an annual income of £768
after fi xed expenses (Russell, op cit., pp. 157–158). This was a
healthy income, but he had former crew members to take care
of, ships to outfi t, and Emma had expensive tastes. Collecting
curious artifacts was a luxury he could ill afford, even if he had
been so inclined.
15. Quoted in W. Mattieu Williams, “A Pilgrimage to Merton
Abbey,” Choice Literature, vol. II, New York: John B. Alden,
1884, p. 261.
16. Nelson struggled for recognition his entire life. We can only
wonder what he would have thought of his brother achieving
such prominence as a result of Nelson’s life’s work.
17. She never acknowledged Emma as her mother, preferring
Emma’s own deception of guardianship. Despite being a
questionable maternal fi gure, Emma ensured that Horatia was
well read and multilingual.
18. Probably preceding the sale in 1948 of Earl Nelson’s Trafalgar
Place estate in Wiltshire.
FIG. 17 (above):
Attributed to Henry Edridge
Nelson, c. 1805.
Oil on panel.
National Museum of the Royal Navy,
HMS Victory, presented by Mrs. M.
S. Ward in memory of her husband,
Maurice Suckling Ward, grandson of
Horatia and the last of Nelson’s greatgrandsons.
FIG. 18 (top right):
After Sydney Parkinson
(c. 1745–1771), Various
Instruments, & Utensils, of
the Natives of Otaheiti, & of
the Adjacent Islands.
Plate XIII from A Journal of a Voyage
to the South Seas : in His Majesty’s
Ship, the Endeavour : Faithfully
Transcribed from the Papers of the
Last Sydney Parkinson, Draughtsman
to Joseph Banks, Esq. on his Late
Expedition with Dr. Solander around
the World/Embellished, London:
printed for Charles Dilly, in the Poultry,
and James Phillips, in the George-Yard,
State Library of New South Wales,
Dixson Library, call Q78/10.
Objects given by Hamilton to Naples
here include the sling or tumpline (no.
1), the headrest (no. 7), the fl ute (no.
8), the adze (no. 9), and penu (no. 10),
and possibly fi sh hooks nos. 18–25.
FIG. 19 (near right):
Letter from Horatio Nelson to
Joseph Banks, July 9, 1803,
concerning the capture of
National Library of Australia, MS
9-Papers of Sir Joseph Banks, 1745–
1923 (bulk 1745–1820) manuscript/
series 3/item 114.