Images that Inspired the Neoclassical Imagination

HANCARVILLE (Pierre François Hugues d')

Antiquités étrusques, grecques et romaines gravées par F. A. David. Avec leurs explications par d'Hancarville.

A Paris, chez l'Auteur, 1785-1788.

5 volumes 4to, contemporary marbled fawn calf, gilt spines with raised bands and red and green lettering pieces, all edges gilt. 103 pp.; 134 pp.; 142 pp.;180 pp., (4) pp.; 110 pp., (2) pp. Complete.

5 hand-coloured engraved frontispiece-titles, 361 illustrations on numbered plates, most of which in contemporary hand-colouring.

Second Edition, the first 4to edition, of a superb work of archaeological literature.

Antiquarian, archaeologist, vulcanologist, and envoy to the British Embassy in Naples, Sir William Hamilton (1731–1803) was a leading European figure of his time. Though the romance between his wife Lady Emma Hamilton and Horatio Nelson tends to eclipse Sir William’s own activities, his work as a scientist and a classicist made major contributions to the study of Pompei, Herculaneum, and Mt. Vesuvius. As an expert in ancient art, Hamilton also built up an invaluable collection of ancient vases, subsequently sold to the British Museum in London in 1772. Before the pieces were shipped off to England, Hamilton commissioned Pierre François Hugues d’Hancarville (1719-1805), an adventurous connoisseur, art dealer and antiquary, member of royal societies in London and Berlin, to document the vases in words and images. Hamilton published a magnificent record of it as Antiquites Etrusques, Grecques et Romaines, tirées du Cabinet du M. Hamilton (Naples, 1766-1767, folio edition limited to 500 copies), which was intended to be both an archaeological work and a stimulus and source for contemporary artists (for example, proofs of the plates were sent to Josiah Wedgwood, whose ceramics were influenced by them). Never before had ancient vases been represented with such meticulous detail and sublime beauty. This second edition of the work was published in a less extravagant form than the first and thus in a more affordable and accessible form, mainly for the use of artists and designers.

Small perforation on plate 29 of volume II, faint white stains to 4 plates, quire O of volume IV age-toned. Generally, a beautiful large paper copy.

Ref. Blackmer, 847 (lacking 3 plates) / Brunet, I, 321 / Cohen-De Ricci, 474 / Vinet, 1528