Receuil de Gravures

Item author: Sir William Hamilton
Item date: 1791-1795
Grant Value: £5,000 from FNL's B. H. Breslauer Fund
Item cost: £5,000
Item date acquired: 2013
Item institution: National Trust, Mount Stewart
Town/City: Newtownards
County: County Down

Recueil de gravures d'après les vases antiques la plus part d'un ouvrage grec.

Sir William Hamilton (1731-1803), now perhaps better known as the cuckolded husband of Nelson's Emma Hamilton, was ideally placed as a diplomat in Naples to pursue his interests in art and classical antiquities.  He collected on a huge scale, purchasing existing collections or pieces and recently excavated items and commissioned sketches of the artefacts and the contexts.  Hamilton's first collection of classical vases sold to the British Museum in 1772 and 'transformed the Museum's antiquities collection and set the Museum on a course that.. made it the great collection of art and antiquity that it has become' (BM website).

This work covers the second collection, mainly from the tombs in Sicily.  Its striking plates, accompanied by parallel texts in French and English, were drawn and engraved by Johann Tischbein (1751-1828), director of the Naples Academy and travelling companion of Goethe.  Many surviving copies are in grand bindings but the Mount Stewart copy is still in its original boards with roan spines, and entirely uncut, making it a useful source for those interested in the history of book production, as well as for the art historian.

This grant was awarded from FNL's B. H. Breslauer Fund, thanks to the generosity of the President and Officers of the B. H. Breslauer Foundation.