Antique Engravings from the First Collection
of Greek Vases of Sir William Hamilton

by June Burgess

In 1764 Hamilton arrived in Naples as the Envoy Extraordinary (later promoted to Minister Plenipotentiary) to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. He stayed there until 1800 when he returned permanently to England with Emma, his second wife. At this time Naples was the third largest capital city in Europe after London and Paris, and Sir William was fortunate to live there during its "Golden Age". He was a key figure at the Neapolitan Court, attended and gave musical assemblies and hunted with the King. His elegant Villas, especially the Palazzo Sessa, attracted the Grand Tourists and distinguished visitors from many countries. Yet in his own time he was recognised as a remarkable man, renowned antiquary, diplomat, aesthete, scholar, lover of art and music especially of the Italian Schools, garden designer and vulcanologist. In other works he epitomised the encyclopaedic interests of the Eighteenth Century amateur - an Eighteenth Century "Renaissance" man if that is not a contradiction in chronological terms! In 1766 Hamilton had watched the excavation of the Trebbia Tomb, 10 miles from the ancient city of Capua and he made a famous drawing of it, particularly noticing the many famous and ancient vases there. He was the first person to commission cork models of tombs to illustrate to visitors the interiors of tombs. Following his sketch of the Trebbia Tomb he decided to provide accurate drawings of ancient vases so they could be reproduced by contemporary artists and manufacturers. His First Vase Collection was published in 1768 and was followed by three more volumes. The First Folio is thought to be one of the most beautiful books of the Eighteenth Century and it inspired Josiah Wedgewood to set up the Etruria pottery works to reproduce ancient vases.

All prints shown are for sale. Price list available by Email or by calling (410) 235-1696.

Aphrodite Dwarf Hunting
Equestrian Hercules Women

Petra Fine Art

Petra Fine Art
Baltimore, MD

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