Sir William Hamilton. Plate 59. 5 3/16 x 9 3/4. From Peintures des Vases Antiques de la Collection de Son Excellence Mr. Le Chevalier Hamilton. . . .. Four volumes in French and Italian. Florence: Società Calcographica, 1802. Hand colored engraving.
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Sir William Hamilton, after amassing and publishing fine illustrations of his first “Cabinet of Etruscan, Greek and Roman antiquities,” sold the renowned collection to the British Museum, and began afresh to develop a second, similar collection. The first collection remains one of the Museum’s greatest treasures. Hamilton authored and published his Collection of Engravings from Ancient Vases, based on this second collection, between 1791 and 1795. This publication and Wedgwood’s works on ceramics influenced John Flaxman and Henry Fuseli as well as many other European artists. These engravings are illustrations from the first Florentine edition of Collection of Engravings from Ancient Vases. Part of this group of vases was lost during Hamilton’s hasty escape from Naples upon the invasion of the French in 1798; the remainder was eventually sold en masse to Englishman, Thomas Hope. Though Hope offered Hamilton less than he planned to receive, he promised to keep the vases together, for the study of artists and students of history, as Hamilton had always intended.