Naples, Italy: F. Morelli, 1766 - 1767. A neoclassical masterpiece from the greatest 18th century work on the arts of the ancient world by D'Hancarville, "Antiquites Etrusques, Grecques, et Romaines tirees du Cabinet du M. William Hamilton", published in Naples in 1767. This is one of only two double-page engravings of the famed Hamilton Vase, now in the British Museum. Framed within ornate patterned borders, the principal scene shows a youth standing in a small temple-like structure, with his horse and armor. Flanking the temple are two youths and two women holding objects including a helmet, shield and spear; a mirror and wreath; two offering bowls, fillet and a branch; and a ritual bucket and jug. At the right side of the engraving is a scene with two males and two females flanking a stele, most likely making offerings and paying homage to the deceased. Colored at the time, the terra cotta colored figures and highlighting in white, against the black background makes a powerful graphic statement.
Sir William Hamilton was the British ambassador to Naples during the city's golden age, from 1764 to 1800. An avid antiquarian, Hamilton assembled one of the world's finest collections of Greek and Roman antiquities. The core of his collection was bought en bloc from the Porcinari family, after an introduction by Hugues d'Hancarville, an amateur art dealer. Hamilton added several more choice items before selling the entire collection to the British Museum in 1772, where it became one of the main collections in the department of Greek and Roman antiquities. However, before the collection was shipped to England, Hamilton arranged for Hugues d'Hancarville to oversee the cataloging and drawing of every item. The published work appeared in 1766-1767 and is a triumphant example of the printmakers art of the highest order. The Hamilton Vase was given star treatment in d'Hancarville's book, with no less than three single b&w and two double-page colored engravings, this being one of the colored ones. (See Jenkins & Sloan, Vases and Volcanoes, Sir William Hamilton and His Collection. British Museum: London 1996, p109 (pictured).
Stunning double page engraving with original hand color and ample margins, framed sympathetically in a gilt and black wood frame. 27 x 17 1/2" in frame measuring 37 x 27" Very good condition. Item #18248