Nelson & Emma:
Aphrodite & Ares Contemplate Admiral Nelson & Lady Hamilton

By Charles Hobson
San Francisco, California: Pacific Editions, 2008. Edition of 35.

10.5 x 11.5 x 1"; 41 pages. Text and design by Charles Hobson. Frontispiece of two-layer monotype portraits of Admiral Nelson and Emma Hamilton which have been reproduced as high resolution digital prints on transparent film. The cover and slipcase have been covered in mouldmade paper called Canal made in Quebec that has been embossed with a pattern of netting for the slipcase. Book with five signatures called "intermezzos" attached to a concertina spine. Each intermezzo has a unique abstract acrylic painting on paper; an image of an historic sea battle printed on transparent film; a Renaissance-era painting of Aphrodite colored with acrylic wash; and a page with cutout windows. Includes a pop-up square-rigged vessel containing the images of Admiral Nelson and Aphrodite.

Prospectus: "In 1798 Admiral Nelson led a fleet of British warships against the French at the mouth of the Nile and achieved a spectacular victory. Several weeks later he sailed into Naples harbor and was greeted with a huge celebration and the rapturous admiration of the citizens, including Lady Emma Hamilton, the young British Ambassador's beautiful young wife. They soon became lovers.

"In Greek mythology Aphrodite, goddess of love, and Ares, god of war, had a tempestuous affair, which resulted in ridicule and embarrassment. Nelson & Emma records an imaginary conversation between Aphrodite and Ares about the admiral and the ambassador's wife, mortals who seem to embody the qualities of love and war that are the special purview of the two gods. As the conversation between the two gods proceeds they pull strings that lead to a net of disapproval and scandal being thrown over Nelson and Emma.

"At the heart of the design of Nelson & Emma is an intention to show alternative perspectives about the events that transpired and to give life to the odd coincidence that love and war are tied closely together in both the affairs of the gods and the affairs of mortals.

"The cover contains a lenticular photograph of an age-of-sail battle scene combined with a painting of Aphrodite by Titian. The goddess looms over the battle. (A lenticular photograph contains two images on beveled horizontal indentations which allows the viewer to tilt the book and shift between the two images.) The slipcase has been made with paper embossed with netting a reference to the net which ensnares Aphrodite and Ares and which, metaphorically, falls over Nelson and Emma."