REYNOLDS, Sir Joshua after (1723-1792), engraved by H. Hudson
The Honble Sir William Hamilton KB
London: H. Hudson, 1787. 25 x 15 3/4 inches.
Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), was a British diplomat, antiquarian, and vulcanologist. He served as British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples from 1764 to 1800 and, soon after, began studying the volcanoes Vesuvius and Etna, publishing several papers on their activity. He had an extensive art and vase collection, many from Greece and Rome, which eventually went to the British Museum. Sir Hamilton was also known through his second wife, Emma Hamilton, who is remembered as Admiral Horatio Nelson's mistress. David Mannings quotes Sloan, with details of the painting: "'The book in Hamilton's lap is the first volume of his collection, open at plate 71, which is inscribed with a cryptic dedication to Sir William in archaic Greek letters. On the table and on the floor beside him are vases acquired by the museum in 1772, including the celebrated "Meidias Hydria." The ancient bronze sword, of which the handle alone is visible, is also with his collection in the British Museum'" (exh. cat. British Museum 1996, 176).
Chaloner Smith 1883 2.IV; Hamilton 1884 34.III; British Museum 1831,1112.2.