- Museum number
- Object: Members of the Society of Dilettanti
Group portrait after Reynolds (Mannings 510); seven men around a table, from left to right: Sir Watkin Williams Wynn seated in profile turned to right wearing 'toga' and pointing to vase in the centre of table, John Taylor standing turned right with eyes to front, holding woman's garter in his left hand, Stephen Payne-Gallway seated turned to left with glass raised to his mouth, Sir William Hamilton seated, gesturing to book on table, Richard Thompson standing behind in embroidered robes, raising a glass in his right hand and speaking to Walter Spencer-Stanhope, in profile turned to left, and John Lewin Smyth leans on the table, listening to Hamilton; proof before letters.
- Production date
Height: 580 millimetres
Width: 418 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from Ian Jenkins and Kim Sloan, "Vases and Volcanoes: Sir William Hamilton and his Collection", BM 1996, cat.52a:
The Society of Dilettanti was founded in 1732, with members from all political parties, various levels of society and different degrees of wealth. What they had in common was the experience of the Grand Tour, a passion for collecting and a love of Italian culture. They lent their financial and powerful social support first to Italian opera and later to the discovery and publication of the ancient art, architecture and civilisations of Greece and Italy, as well as giving their patronage to young British artists. The Society of Dilettanti attempted to set up an Academy of Art in London and employed these artists for their publications and portraits, also awarding them scholarships to study abroad.
The idea of two group portraits was first suggested at a meeting in January 1777. One of the portraits appears to depict Hamilton's reception into the Society two months later, on 2 March. He is shown as the central figure in 1838,0714.47, gesturing to plate 60 in the first volume of his vase publication. Around him and in the other portrait are many of the men with whom he not only shared a commitment to the improvement of the arts in Britain, but whose collections he often helped to form. They include Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, on the left in the Hamilton portrait, wearing the 'toga' as President for the evening, who shared with Hamilton a passion for music and theatricals as well as admiration for the work of Raffael Mengs, from whom he commissioned a large painting of 'Perseus and Andromeda' (St Petersburg, Hermitage).
In the other portrait, celebrating the collecting of ancient gems, are Lord Fortrose, seated second from left, whose apartments in Naples had been depicted by Fabris (see Jenkins & Sloan 1996, cat. no. 16) and who by then was the Earl of Seaforth; just behind him to the right is Hamilton's nephew, Charles Greville, touching glasses of vintage claret with the Society's Secretary, John Charles Crowle, and Joseph Banks, who succeeded him as Secretary (1841,0809.150 and 1831,0520.55), and in front of them with his arm extending across the table to show a gem, is Lord Carmarthen, later Duke of Leeds and recipient of many of Hamilton's diplomatic dispatches.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1996, London BM, 'Vases and Volcanoes: Sir William Hamilton and his collection', cat.52a
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number