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Emma as Thaïs Burning Persopolis

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A fine 18th century Chinese reverse painted glass picture after the original work by Sir Joshua Reynolds; retaining the original Chinese carved and gilded frame.

Overall dimensions 26.25 in x 18.25 in

The image is of Thaïs, Hetaira and lover of Ptolemy 1 Soter, general and companion to Alexander the Great, shown leading the destruction of the palace of Persepolis. It is written that Alexander burned down the Palace of Persopolis immediately following a drinking party at which Thais gave an inspirational speech convincing him to do so. 

Prophetically, the model for the painting by Reynolds, exhibited at the RA in 1781, is accepted as being the fifteen year old Miss Emily Potts, later Lady Hamilton and eventually wife to Admiral Lord Nelson. 

In ancient Greece a hetaira, in contrast to pornai or common prostitute, was likely to be a highly educated woman with few clients at any one time. They would maintain long relationships providing both companionship and intellectual stimulation as well as sex.

Thaïs may also have been Alexander's lover, Athenaeus maintaining that Alexander liked to "keep Thaïs with him". However, this may simply have meant that he enjoyed her company as she is said to have been very witty and entertaining. Athenaeus also says that after Alexander's death Ptolemy married Thaïs, who bore three of his children, and may also have become a Queen of Egypt.



Item Code: 3508

£ 14500

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