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Opening from the Antiquités Etrusques, Grecques et Romaines

Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), British Plenipotentiary to Naples and husband of Lord Nelson’s Emma, was the first collector to acknowledge the Greek origin of the red and black vases which until then were considered Etruscan. The catalogue of his first collection, illustrated with magnificent hand-coloured engravings and often ‘enhancing’ the ancient models with illusionistic tromp l’oeil shadows, was inspired by the current fashion for elaborate publications on Grand Tour artefacts. The proportions of vases were meticulously drawn, and provided contemporary craftsmen with refined classical models. Josiah Wedgwood was among the first to incorporate this wealth of material into his designs.