HAMILTON, William, Sir (1730-1803) - HANCARVILLE Pierre Francois Hugues d'. Antiquities Etrusques, Grecques et Romaines. Naples: [Francesco Morelli], 1767.

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HAMILTON, William, Sir (1730-1803) - HANCARVILLE Pierre Francois Hugues d'. Antiquities Etrusques, Grecques et Romaines tirees du Cabinet de M. Hamilton Envoye Extraordinaire et Plenipotentiaire de s.M. Britannique en Cour de Naples. Tome Second. MD.CCLXVII. Naples: [Francesco Morelli], 1767.

Volume 2 only, (of an eventual 4). Folio (19 2/8 x 14 4/8 inches). Engraved title-page with original ochre hand-colour heightened with white, 17 double-page and 46 full-page engraved plates with original ochre hand-colour occasionally heightened in blue and white, one uncoloured double-page and 81 full-page plates. Modern natural linen cloth clamshell box.

Provenance: with the monogram of William McCarty-Cooper  (1938 - 1991), interior designer and art-collector, on the spine label of the clamshell box, his sale Christie's 25 January 1992, lot 29

First edition, of the second volume only, limited issue one of  500 copies (Blackmer). This 'ouvrage precieux, execute avec beaucoup de luxe' (Brunet) describes the collection of ancient vases assembled by Hamilton after his appointment to the court of Naples in 1764. Pierre 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).

One of the explicit aims of the work was to discover the proportions of ancient vases in order to aid in their true reproduction, and indeed its influence on Josiah Wedgewood was significant. With the first two volumes issued, publication was then interrupted by Hugues's expulsion from Naples, apparently for debt, and Hamilton had to overcome the difficulty of finding his copper-plates in the hands of creditors. The last two volumes did not appear before 1776. Although Blackmer states that the edition was of 500 copies, it appears that only 100 copies of the two later volumes were issued (cf. I. Jenkins and K. Sloan Vases and Volcanoes, 1996, p.49), and this, together with the long gap in publication, accounts for the relatively high number of incomplete sets. The Blackmer copy contained 435 plates, the Northwick Park copy 436 plates and at least two other copies are known to contain 437 plates. Blackmer Catalogue 845; Berlin Katalog 890; Brunet I, 321; Cohen-de Ricci 474; Vinet 1528.Catalogued by Kate Hunter