Mr Makower (1876-1946), a wealthy silk merchant, collector and philanthropist, had been a benefactor of the museum since 1924, when he first appeared with a parcel under his arm containing the vest King Charles I supposedly wore at his execution. After several other gifts and financial funding, in 1930 Mr Makower joined the museum’s Board of Trustees. In 1931, he donated several items to feature in a temporary display of London-made musical instruments. A review of the exhibition from The Times newspaper, 15 January 1932, mentions that among the instruments shown is “the guitar used by Emma Hamilton about 1800, which has been given to the Museum, with some of Emma’s music, by Mr. Ernest Makower.” The ‘music’ referenced here is a copy of Joseph Haydn’s oratorio The Creation and two volumes of bound pieces of music from between 1790 and 1807.
The entry in the museum’s accessions register mentions the items’ connections with Emma Hamilton but does not record ownership before they become part of the Makowers’ collection. It is reasonable to imagine however that this took place via an auction house sale.
As with many other famous personalities of the time, Emma Hamilton’s so called “relics” became collectable items and many often appeared in auction sales catalogues of the 19th and 20th centuries. Due to the increasing financial difficulties Emma experienced after Lord Nelson’s death, and in order to survive, she sold or had confiscated most of her possessions; with time, these became scattered all over national and international collections, both public and privately owned.
Joseph Haydn’s The Creation
The Creation (Die Schöpfung), Haydn’s choral masterpiece, was written between 1797 and 1798. The libretto follows the Judeo-Christian Creation story, with three parts covering the representation of chaos, the six days of creation and the story of Adam and Eve. It was first performed privately on April 1798 and in public on March 1799. With a combination of epic subject, cultural-historical ‘moment’ on the cusp between Enlightenment and Romanticism, it appealed to both high-minded and ordinary listeners.