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ASSOCIATE OF SIR WILLIAM HAMILTON (HENLEY-ON-THAMES 1730-1803 LONDON)
An album containing 49 drawings and counterproofs of Antique vases, jugs and amphorai
with first inscription 'Il Campo di questo vaso e negro colle figure/ [illegible crossed out inscription] bianche come ancora l’ornato, per li ornati/ che girano atorno al vaso sono negri [crossed out] negri sopra/ il Campo bianco, e questi ornati sono quelli/ che segnaro con una lignea. e accio lo Capite/ vi Giungero col disegno uno che a/ inciso D. Carlo/ Nol[l]i/ vi e un altro Vaso che non e ancora/ finito ma ve la mandaro uno di questi/ giorni’ and with asterisks at the right indicating the decorative patterns at the upper and lower rims of the vase and with second inscription on the left signed by d'Hancarville 'Riverisco il S[ignor]. fiorillo, M. Cardon gli rimettera 22 oncie d’oro da parte mia ma la prego di toccare ancora un / poco questo vaso il quale non mi pare negro abastantemente; so bene che le cose non si fanno che poco / a poco, et che cosi non ha potuto fare quel che desidero alla prima; la ringrazio in tanto della sua attentione e sono suo servitore d’Hancarville' (on the first drawing)
variously graphite, red chalk, red chalk counterproof (some strengthened in red chalk), pen and brown ink, guidelines in graphite, incised for transfer, the first drawing reddened on the verso, various watermarks, in a modern binding with a 19th (?) Century partial spine with title 'DESSINS DE VASES ANTIQUES'
8 x 578 in. (20.2 x 14.7 cm), and smaller
Provenance
Possibly Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803); Christie's, London, 8-10 June 1809, part of lot 134 ('Two vols. of original drawings from the Etruscan Vases, for the Engravings of d'Hancarville's Etruscan Antiquities' for 10½ gns to 'Mans.[on]', presumably the bookseller John Paul Manson).
Sale Room Notice
Please note the amended note discussing the provenance.
Please note that the binding carries a stamp 'L. Lemardeley' (referring to Léon Lemardeley (died 1903)) and that the provenance should read as follows:
Possibly Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803); Christie's, London, 8-10 June 1809, part of lot 134 ('Two vols. of original drawings from the Etruscan Vases, for the Engravings of d'Hancarville's Etruscan Antiquities' for 10½ gns to 'Mans.[on]', presumably the bookseller John Paul Manson).
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Lot Essay

This fascinating group of drawings and counterproofs gives a rare insight into the process of creating one of the greatest antiquarian books ever produced, the Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities from the Cabinet of the Honourable William Hamilton, published between 1766 and 1776. The initiative for this ambitious undertaking came from Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), the British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples from 1764 until 1800. A true man of the Enlightenment, Hamilton did not limit himself to diplomatic affairs; he was a volcanologist, archaeologist as well as an avid collector of antiquities. His passion for art history and archaeology led to a number of publications documenting his interests in various arts and artefacts. For the Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities, which was no doubt his most ambitious publication, Hamilton employed the so-called Baron d’Hancarville, whose real name was Pierre-François Hugues (1719-1805). Work on this vast publication commenced at the time when Hamilton was selling his ‘first vase collection’ to the British Museum (the ‘second vase collection’ partly went down with the ship that was transporting it from Naples to England and partly was bought by Thomas Hope). Besides overseeing the publication, d’Hancarville was also responsible for the texts in which he describes the history of Antique vases. In his introduction d’Hancarville sets outs his aim, to show a ‘considerable collection of exquisite Models […] and to hasten the Progress of the Arts, by disclosing true principles’ (see F. Lissarrague and M. Reed, ‘The Collector’s Books’, Journal of the History of Collections, IX, 1997, p. 276). The publication was enriched by no fewer than 520 plates, which were produced under the supervision of the Pisan artist Giuseppe Bracci who in turn worked with a number of engravers to execute the prints (see ibid., p. 275).

Despite what the title of the publication suggests, the vases depicted did not all come from the collection of Hamilton. In his preface, d’Hancarville notes that he also included vases from other collections, and a number of vases from these collections have now been identified (see ibid., pp. 290-291). Perhaps to the surprise of the modern reader, the plates are not described in an explanatory list and their order appears to be rather casual, even random. Of the 520 plates (130 plates in each volume), 99 depict ornaments and 421 vases. Of these, 90 show the entire vase and 151 profiles of the vases with measurements, while the other 180 plates show the vases’ decorations in colour (see ibid., p. 283).

The present drawings show the vases themselves, apart from two which only depict their decoration. 37 were used for plates in the Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities [...], each of them carefully incised for transfer (see list with volume and plate numbers below). The first drawing carries inscriptions in two different hands. The first one, by either the draughtsman or an engraver, gives detailed instructions about the decoration of the vase and mentions that the drawing would be engraved by Carlo Nolli. The second inscription, in reply, is signed by none other than d'Hancarville himself. He informs a certain 'Mr Fiorillo', author of the first inscription, that he will be given 22 ounces of gold, but he also requires him to retouch the vase a little as it is not sufficiently black. This 'Mr Fiorillo' may possibly be identified as Nicola Fiorillo (fl. 1760-1795), whose name frequently appears as the engraver on prints after the Antique. Another drawing of a vase, apparently not engraved, that also carries an inscription by d'Hancarville is in the British Museum (inv. 2010,5006.1920; see I. Jenkins and K. Sloan, Vases & Volcanoes. Sir William Hamilton and his Collection, exhib. cat., London, British Museum, 1996, fig. 18).

It is interesting to note that Hamilton owned two albums of drawings for the project which were sold at Christie's, London, 8-10 June 1809, part of lot 134, described as 'Two vols. of original drawings from the Etruscan Vases, for the Engravings of d'Hancarville's Etruscan Antiquities'. The lot was bought by a certain 'Mans.' who may perhaps be identified as the bookseller John Paul Manson. While the present drawings could have been part of this group, it is difficult to establish this with certainty as the album does not carry Hamilton's book plate. Another group of drawings for the project described as a 'Collection of Etruscan Vases, the Original Drawings by d‘Hancarville for this Work [Hamilton's Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities [...]], loose in 3 [crossed out in pen and altered to '2/ one volume missing'] large folio volumes, russia' was in the sale of Sir John Swinburne, Christie's, London, 8 June 1915, lot 86 (£5 to Van Stochen). Given the fact that the binding of the album of the present drawings is by Léon Lemardeley (died 1903) and the drawings are mounted, rather than loosely inserted (as is the case with the drawings sold in 1915), these cannot have been part of that group.

While the authorship of at least some of the print makers involved in the project is known (F. Lissarrague and M. Reed, op. cit., p. 292, note 9), the identity of the artists responsible for the drawings has yet to be established. However, the inscriptions on the first drawing disclose some information of the working methods of the engravers and prompts the question whether Nicola Fiorillo could have produced these drawings. Another draughtsman connected with the project is mentioned in a letter from William Hamilton to Horace Mann from 1 January 1771; ‘we owe the best part of the execution of the Etruscan work: he drew all the figures; his name is Redmund [George]’ (see I. Jenkins, ‘Contemporary minds’. Sir William Hamilton’s Affair with Antiquity’ inJenkins and Sloan, op. cit., pp. 48 and 63, note 76). The previously mentioned drawing in the British Museum has tentatively been given to George Redmund and perhaps he is another candidate for the authorship of the present drawings. While one wishes more about these drawings and their authorship was known, the present group does shed more light on one of the biggest archaeological publications of its time and surely more questions will be answered over time.


1 vol. II, pl. 49 (British Museum, inv. 1772,0320.29.*)
2 vol. III, pl. 66
3 vol. II, pl. 92 (British Museum, inv. 1772.3-3.30; see Jenkins and Sloan, op. cit., no. 138, ill.).
4 vol. I, pl. 104
5 vol. IV, pl. 111 (British Museum, inv. 1772,0320.21.+)
6 vol. II, pl. 82
7 -
8 vol. I, pl. 113
9 -
10 vol. III, pl. 50
11 vol. I, pl. 118
12 -
13 vol. II, pl. 98
14 -
15 vol. III, pl. 32
16 -
17 vol. IV, pl. 101
18 vol. III, pl. 30
19 vol. IV, pl. 48
20 vol. I, pl. 95
21 -
22 vol. I, pl. 36
23 vol. II, pl. 75
24 vol. I, pl. 107
25 vol. III, pl. 101
26 -
27 vol. I, pl. 78 (British Museum, inv. .388)
28 vol. IV, pl. 39
29 vol. II, pl. 54
30 -
31 vol. III, pl. 37
32 vol. IV, pl. 62
33 vol. I, pl. 80
34 vol. II, pl. 114
35 -
36 vol. IV, pl. 67
37 vol. II, pl. 104
38 vol. II, pl. 69
39 -
40 vol. III, pl. 39
41 vol. I, pl. 125
42 vol. III, pl. 79
43 vol. I, pl. 91
44 vol. III, pl. 63
45 vol. II, pl. 87
46 -
47 vol. II, pl. 117
48 vol. III, pl. 74
49 (recto) vol. IV, pl. 84
49 (verso) -

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