ACADAMIA ERCOANESE di ARCHEOLOGIA - BAIARDI, Ottavio Antonio (1695-1764). Catalogo degli Antichi Monumenti dissotterrati dalla Discoperta citta di Ercolano. Naopli: Regia Stamperia, 1755.

  • $ 34,000.00
    Unit price per 


ACADAMIA ERCOANESE di ARCHEOLOGIA - BAIARDI, Ottavio Antonio (1695-1764). Catalogo degli Antichi Monumenti dissotterrati dalla discoperta citta di Ercolano per Ordine della Maesta di Carlo Re delle Due Sicile, e di Gierussalemme, Infante di Spagna, Duca di Parma, e di Piacenza, Gran Principe Ereditario di Toscana, compost e steso da Monsignor Ottavio Antonio Bayardi protonotario apostolico, referendario dell'una e dell'altra signatura, e consultore de'sacri ritta. Naopli: Regia Stamperia, 1755.


Together 9 volumes comprising: One text volume, the "Catalogo..." and eight plate volumes.

- 5 volumes: Le Pitture Antiche D'Ercolano e Contorni incise con Qualche Spiegazione. Napoli: Regia Stamperia, 1757 - 1779. Volumes I,II,III,IV and VII or the plate volumes.

- 2 volumes: De' Bronzi di Ercolano e Contorni incisi con Qualche Spiegazione - Busti [and] Stattue. Napoli: Regia Stamperia, 1767 - 1771. Volume V and VI of the plate volumes.

- Le Lucerne ed i Candelabris d'Ercolano e Contorni incise con Qualche Spiegazione. Napoli: Regia Stamperia, 1792. Volume VIII of the plate volumes.

Folio (19 2/8 x 14 6/8 inches). Half-titles to each volume, additional engraved title-page to "Catalogo..." and the first volume of "Le Pitture...", vignette letterpress title-pages to each volume, title-pages printed in red and black to "Le Pitture...", "De' Bronzi...", and "Le Lucerne...", engraved frontispiece portrait of Charles III to first volume of "Le Pitture...", and of Ferdinand IV in "le Lucerne...", double-page engraved map "Cratere Maritimo, o parte del Golfo di Napoli", 2 fine folding panoramas, double-page view, 2 folding plates, a further 603 full-page plates for a total of 609, 779 vignette head- and tail-pieces (some repeated), one 8-line initial, and 546 6-line initials (some repeated) (some occasionally heavy spotting and some pale marginal staining, especially to the end of the "Stattue". Contemporary diced Russia, each panelled cover with an elaborate broad outer border of gilt filets, Greek key and fern roll tools, and an inner border of blind and gilt roll tools with each inner corner decorated with fine leaf and dot tools, inner dentelles decorated with gilt borders of interlocking oval tools (rebacked to style, inner hinges strengthened).

Provenance: A SUPERB ASSOCIATION COPY: FROM THE LIBRARY OF SIR WILLIAM HAMILTON (1730-1803), celebrated collector of antiquities, PRESENTED TO HIM BY CHARLES III OF SPAIN (1716-1788), inscribed as such on the recto of the first blank of the "Catalogo..." "Copy given by the King of Naples to Sir William Hamilton & purchased at Sir Williams's Auction", his sale "Catalogue of the very choice and extremely valuable library of books, etc. … of the late Sir William Hamilton",  Christie's, 8–10 June 1809; with the engraved armorial bookplate of Archibald Acheson, second earl of Gosford (1776–1849), governor-in-chief of British North America, on the front paste-down of each volume, presumably purchased him at the Hamilton auction; modern bookplate of Warwick Castle on the front free endpaper of each volume.

First editions, printed for private circulation by the Academia Ercoanese at the command of Charles III, King of Spain (1759–88) and King of Naples (as Charles VII, 1734–1759), over a period of 35 years, this copy presented to Sir William Hamilton. This copy bound without a further 8 engraved portraits and a very rare 'extra' plate, as is often the case.

A  MAGNIFICIENT VISUAL RECORD OF THE EXTRAORDINARY TREASURES UNCOVERED DURING THE 18TH-CENTURY EXCAVATION OF THE ANCIENT CITY OF HERCULANEUM in Campania, Italy. It lay 5 miles southeast of Naples, at the western base of Mount Vesuvius, and was tragically destroyed - together with Pompeii, Torre Annunziata, and Stabiae - by the eruption of that volcano in ad 79. "Excavation began in the 18th century, when all memory of the existence of Herculaneum had been lost for centuries and the only available reports of it were those that had come down through the authors of antiquity, without any information as to the exact position of the ancient city. Quite by accident, in 1709, during the digging of a well, a wall was discovered that was later found to be a part of the stage of the Herculaneum theatre. Tunnels were soon dug at the site by treasure hunters, and many of the theatre area’s artifacts were removed. Regular excavations were started in 1738 under the patronage of the king of Naples, and from 1750 to 1764 the military engineer Karl Weber served as director of excavations. Under Weber, diagrams and plans of the ruins were produced, and numerous artifacts were uncovered and documented. Magnificent paintings and a group of portrait statues were excavated from a building thought to be the ancient basilica of Herculaneum, and a large number of bronze and marble works of art were recovered from a suburban villa, called the Villa of the Papyri because of its having contributed a whole library of ancient papyri in Greek. These papyri, on philosophical subjects of Epicurean inspiration, are preserved in the National Library of Naples. The excavations were resumed in 1823 with the intention of discontinuing the previous tunneling and instead working from above ground, a method used with success at Pompeii; up to 1835 the work proved to be of value, bringing to light the first houses of Herculaneum, among which was the peristyle of the House of Argus. Abandoned and again resumed in 1869, after the unification of Italy, the excavations continued until 1875, when, because of the poor results obtained and the presence of the inhabited dwellings of Resina (now Ercolano), they were once more abandoned" (Encyclopedia Britannica). 

Baiardi, who would eventually become Bishop of Tyre in 1761, compiled the extensive catalogue (text volume) of the artifacts excavated at Herculaneum for King Charles III, and oversaw the first two of the plate volumes illustrating the artifacts, before Charles founded the Acadamia Ercoanese to speed up the process of publishing the eagerly anticipated illustrations of Herculaneum's treasures. The eight volumes of magnificent plates include superb reproductions of the hundreds of friezes adorning the walls of the immaculately preserved buildings, statues, busts, ornaments and lamps.

It is hard to imagine a more fitting recipient of these volumes than the career diplomat and renowned collector of antiquities, Sir William Hamilton. In 1764 Hamilton petitioned for and received the post of envoy to Naples. His first wife Catherine was ailing, and the air was to do her good. She opened their two homes, one in Naples, and one in the foothills of Vesuvius, to the great and the good, all visitors on the Grand Tour, as an academy for music, putting on delicate and dignified performances of the harpsichord. The performances of Hamilton's more illustrious second wife, Emma, were rather more dramatic. She struck 'attitudes', or dramatic impersonations of the characters from Greek myth and art, for guests drawn to the Campi Phlegraei by recently discovered Roman towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii (in 1738 and 1748 respectively), which had been simultaneously destroyed by Vesuvius' eruptions in 79 AD and buried by the ash and lava for over one thousand years. King Ferdinand I, who funded the excavation of these towns, was a frequent visitor to the Hamilton home, filled as it was with his extraordinarily fine collections of art and antiquities. Soon the volcano, ruined Greek cities, and the Hamilton home all became curiosities in their own right for the Neapolitan leg of a tourist's travels. Many wished to climb to the volcano's summit - even as it erupted - which it did in the 1770s. Hamilton often accompanied his guests on these ascents, apparently undertaking the journey some fifty eight times, despite the dangers, which were often all too real: Hamilton's good friend the Earl of Bristol, was badly burned in the attempt to reach the crater. In some of these beautiful and dramatic images, Hamilton in his red coat and the artist Fabris in his blue one, can be seen getting very close to the volcanic action.

"Running two villas, a country house at the foot of Vesuvius and his main home in Naples, the money Hamilton received as envoy was insufficient to maintain ambassadorial hospitality and to feed his vast collecting appetite. Briefly returning to London in 1772, he was compelled to sell much of his art collection to the British Museum with a grant given to preserve it in the nation's interest. On the same visit, Hamilton was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Having already begun correspondence about the increasingly violent Vesuvius, upon his return to Naples his attention was drawn to challenging commonly held assumptions about volcanic activity by documenting what he saw in its eruptions. The excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii, along with stories of the effects of Vesuvius' eruptions within living memory of Naples' inhabitants, reinforced the view that the volcano was a purely destructive force. However, Hamilton sought to show that in a broader time scale, volcanoes had been responsible for the mountainous landscape and rich, fertile soils that characterised the area. He identified that heat formed basaltic rocks and that the stratified appearance of the land - both in exposed rock faces and in the excavated Roman towns - was due to a build up of layers of ash, lava and debris from Vesuvius" (Ellen Cole, University of Glasgow online).

On his arrival in Naples Hamilton began to acquire his own collection of ancient vases, published as Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities in Naples between 1766-1776. Francois Hugues, an authority on ancient art, had introduced Hamilton to the Porcinari family, the owners of a large collection of ancient classical vases which Hamilton bought and enlarged, and then sold to the British Museum in 1772. Before their shipment of England, all the objects were listed, drawn and described under the supervision of the brilliant but unscrupulous 'baron'. The work was finely illustrated with hand-coloured engraved plates whose 'influence on neo-classical design and taste was to be profound' (Dictionary of Art). 

Also from the library of Archibald Acheson, second earl of Gosford (1776–1849), who on the 1st of July 1835 was appointed governor of Lower Canada and governor-in-chief of British North America. "Gosford's appointment was based on the assumption that there was a close analogy between Ireland and Lower Canada and that the whig policy of conciliation might be applied to Lower Canada as well as Ireland. Indeed, Gosford's instructions emphasized that his priority was to conciliate the assembly of Lower Canada and that the duty of the commission was to submit a comprehensive proposal to resolve the disputes between the executive and the assembly. Unfortunately Gosford's instructions were less conciliatory than originally intended because William IV refused to agree to the original draft, and he warned Gosford to ‘Mind what you are about in Canada". Ultimately his mission failed, "but his failure was probably inevitable, and his efforts at conciliation were not entirely unsuccessful and probably limited the severity of the rebellion. Blackmer 37 and 97; cf. Berlin Kat. 3947; Cicognara 2645; RIBA Cat. 112 and 224 (second edition). Catalogued by Kate Hunter