Visions of vases: Images that inspired the neoclassical imagination 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 Greek vases, subsequently sold to the British Museum in London in 1772. Before the pieces were shipped off to England, Hamilton commissioned Pierre-Francois Hugues d'Hancarville, an adventurous connoisseur and art dealer, to document the vases in words and images. The resulting catalog, published in four volumes and known as Les Antiquites d'Hancarville, represents a neoclassical masterpiece. Never before had ancient vases been represented with such meticulous detail and sublime beauty. With this reprint, TASCHEN revives d'Hancarville's masterful catalog for a contemporary audience, reproducing in exacting detail the same pristine images that sparked Europe's love affair with the classical style.
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