Sir William Hamilton (Biographical details)

Sir William Hamilton (official; collector; British; Male; 1730 - 1803)

Also known as

Hamilton, William


British Envoy to the Kingdom of Naples and the Two Sicilies from 1764 to 1798; a renowned collector of antiquities and student of the natural world whose fascination with classical art had considerable influence on artistic life in Britain in the eighteenth century. His collection of antiquities included objects from the recently excavated ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which he published. There is an exemplar of his 'Campi Phlegraei. Observations on the Volcanoes of the Two Sicilies' 2 vols, Naples, 1776, with 54 coloured prints by P. Fabris et al, which also contains some of the original drawings for the prints, in the BL, Tab.435.a.15.
The first part of his collection was offered to the British Parliament for sale in 1772, and entered the collections of the British Museum for £8,400. The British Museum subsequently received gifts of antiquities and natural history specimens from Hamilton.
The 'Second Collection' of vases was lost with the wreck of HMS Colossus off the Scilly Isles in December, 1798. Some 30,000 vessel fragments have since been recovered and entered the collections of the British Museum.
Hamilton was a trustee of the British Museum.


I. Jenkins and K. Sloane. Vases and volcanoes. Sir William Hamilton and his collection. London: British Museum Press, 1996.