With the 2012 London Olympics just over half-completed, Arader Galleries thought it was high time to show our Olympic spirit. Sport, like art, brings together people of all classes, creeds, and countries to remind us that at our very core we are the same.
Sir William Hamilton (1731-1803) was sent to Naples as Chief British Envoy to the Bourbon King Ferdinand IV. Once there, he was inspired by the cultural heritage of Italy and began studying archaeology and antiquity; he soon embarked on a project to publish illustrations of the objects that so fascinated him. Hamilton assembled perhaps the finest collection of ancient Greek ceramics found in Italy, and then chose the finest examples for his publication, Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities (Naples, 1766-67). Hamilton saw his mission as one to remind Europe of the beauty of form and lines and to “annihilate those Gothic forms which habit alone renders supportable.”
Hamilton’s Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities contained two kinds of illustrations: First, narrative and pictorial plates, each one with decorative motifs taken from a vase, cup, or plate; and second, black and white perspective drawings of the pieces so that artists and craftsmen could recreate the ancient forms. The narrative plates exhibit the classical black and terra-cotta color scheme, with touches of accent coloring on some of the plates. The subject matter ranges - as it did on the original ceramic pieces - from activities of the mythical gods and creatures, to feasting and the daily life of ancient peoples. The black–and-white perspective drawings were intended to provide guidelines to artists “with as much truth and precision as if he had the Originals themselves in his possession.”
For his tireless research in the fields of volcanism, archaeology, antiquity, and Italian geography, Hamilton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society as well as awarded the Copley Medal in 1770 for his paper, An Account of a Journey to Mount Etna. His book, Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities, became a virtual dictionary of Classical form throughout the l8th and l9th centuries. His collection became a cornerstone of the British Museum’s Department of Classical Antiquities.
It is in this Grecian spirit that Arader Galleries is pleased to provide a collection of Hamilton prints.