HAMILTON, William, Sir (1730-1803) & Pierre François Hugues d' HANCARVILLE. Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities from the Cabinet of the Hon. William Hamilton, Naples: 1766-67. 4 volumes, 2° (468 x 370mm), 2 tinted titles in each volume in English and French, engraved dedication to George III in volume I, hand-coloured and plain plates, illustrations, culs-de-lampe and historiated initials, numbered from 1 - 130 in volumes I-III and from 1 - 129 (?only, of 130) in volume IV comprising a total of 519, finely-bound in contemporary Etruscan-style russia decorated in gilt and blind, covers with Greek key-pattern borders and fan-shaped corner-pieces, spines gilt, gilt inner dentelles, marbled edges (joints split, extremities rubbed, some scuffing).
FIRST EDITION of this 'ouvrage précieux, exécuté avec beaucoup de luxe' (Brunet), describing the collection of ancient vases assembled by Hamilton after his appointment to the court of Naples in 1764. Pierre François 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 first two volumes of the catalogue were issued in 1767-70, but 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. 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 Volacanoes, 1996, p.49), and this, together with the nine year gap in publication, would explain the relatively high number of incomplete sets. Berlin Kat 890; Blackmer 845; Brunet I, 321; Cohen-de Ricci 474. (4)