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"Circe" (see related A | B), 1782 George Romney (1734–1802) National Trust, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England

Since Ovid presented the poetic story of mythic Circe who across centuries is presented as an alluring woman shunned by mortal men. Circe viewed most men as pigs and did transform many by her magic wand and magic teas into pigs and other tamed beasts. 

This painting is among the first by Romney of Amy (or Emily, Emma, or Emy Lyon, later Hart and finally Lady Hamilton). She stands as a goddess with a magic wand next to a tamed wolf. Like Pygmalion’s who loved his statues, Romney became mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of Emma who became his amusing muse. Almost concurrently,  Romney painted Emma again as a Circe, but this time as a portrait (see related image). Perhaps Romney had in mind that Emma’s lover behaved like a pig. When she became pregnant he expelled her to the streets of London. Much later, Horatio Nelson and Emma became soulmates and had a daughter Horatia. After Nelson's death, the British people made him a national hero and Emma was vilified as a malignant Circe who ensnared an innocent Nelson. 

This picture is emblematic of notions inherent in “charming, charisma, charm, wand, wisdom, wit, witch, love, hate, jealousy, revenge, and cruelty”. An observer of this image is challenged to blend the notions of the benign and malignant implications of feminine beauty.

(more depictions of Ceres and Emma to follow).

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