Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson is best remembered for his heroic efforts during the Napoleonic wars. He has inspired a number of monuments including Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London.
During his war efforts, Nelson suffered numerous injuries; most famously he lost his right arm as a result of the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and lost the sight in his right eye during battle in Calvi.
Nelson first met Emma, Lady Hamilton in 1793 when he came to gather reinforcements against the French. They met again in 1798 when Nelson returned to Naples, following victory in the Battle of the Nile in Aboukir, and stayed with Sir William and Lady Hamilton. Nelson had suffered many injuries at battle and Lady Hamilton nursed him back to good health. The pair soon fell in love and began a relationship which was tolerated by Sir William, who showed the greatest respect for the war hero.
Nelson is best remembered for his success at the Battle of Trafalgar, 21st October 1805, and the signal he sent to the fleet: 'England expects that every man will do his duty'. Tragically, he was killed by a sniper just hours after the battle.
This is a snuff box which Lord Nelson gave to his Secretary George Unwin.
The snuff box, which has a watercolour miniature of the Amalfi coast fitted into the lid, is accompanied by a note from Unwin’s son that reads as follows:
"My Father had either lost his own snuff box on going ashore or in some shop in Palermo and upon mentioning the circumstances at Lady Hamilton’s table where Lord Nelson was one of the party his Lordship handed over to him this identical box and desired him to keep it until he could get a better one.”
The box has been in the possession of Unwin’s family ever since.
It is most likely that this incident occurred in late 1798 or early 1799 when Lord Nelson was in Sicily with Sir William and Lady Hamilton and the King of Naples. It was in Sicily that Nelson and Lady Hamilton first began their affair. It seems very likely that Nelson generously gave this gift to Unwin in an attempt to impress his future mistress.
A beautiful piece from one of Britain’s most famous war heroes.