HAMILTON, Sir William (1730-1803) - After Pietro FABRIS
Geological samples [Plate 42]
[Naples: 1776-1779]. Copper engraving after Fabris, fine contemporary hand-colouring, image within thick black gouache border and outer margins with overall grey wash. Image size: 7 7/8 x 15 inches. Sheet size: 12 5/8 x 18 inches.
A fine image recalling the contents of a gentleman's 'cabinet of curiosities' of the 17th and 18th centuries.
This plate is from the Campi Phlegraei: the best known of Hamilton's four works on volcanic activity, which 'provided a clearer, more precise and useful explanation of volcanic activity than ever before published, which underlined Hamilton's own theories about volcanoes being creative forces and enabled him to answer in one publication the lists of questions about volcanoes and rocks he had been receiving from correspondents all over Europe. Its publication in French and English provided it with a market not only in his own country but throughout Europe as well, and an international audience for a British discovery' (Jenkins and Sloan). Pietro Fabris (fl.1756-1784), an artist living in Naples, was commissioned and trained by Hamilton to sketch both the volcanoes of southern Italy, and Hamilton's collections of geological specimens. In four years Hamilton climbed Vesuvius at least twenty-two times, sometimes at great risk, since both he and Fabris wished to make sketches at every stage of the eruptions.
Cf. I. Jenkins & K.Sloan Vases and Volcanoes (London: 1996), 'Catalogue' 43; cf. Lewine p.232; cf. Lowndes II, p.989.