Cabinet of Sir William Hamilton

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Our Collection of Etruscan, Greek, and Roman antiquities from the cabinet of the Honorable Wm Hamilton, his Britannick Majesty’s envoy extraordinary and plenipotentiary at the court of Naples, was published in Naples between 1766 and 1767. These impressive volumes contain engraved frontispieces with terracotta washes and silvered hand-colouring.  Most engravings are unsigned, but some of those in volume 2 are signed respectively G. Bracci, Edmondo Beaulieu, C. Pignatari, Ant. Cardon, and Car. Nolli. The text is by Pierre d’Hancarville.

An amateur art dealer, d’Hancarville introduced William Hamilton, British Ambassador at Naples, to the Porcinari family, whose collection of antiquities Hamilton bought, and subsequently sold to the British Museum in London. The antiquities shown and discussed in these volumes are nearly all ancient Greek vases, collected from Herculaneum, Pompeii and other parts of south Italy and Greece. Hamilton intended this collection of vases not only to provide models for contemporary designers but also, because of their great number, to help in tracing the historic development of the ‘stiles of the different periods in the Art of the Ancients’.

Update June 2014: Sadly our copies of this volume were destroyed in the Mackintosh Library fire.

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