Hamilton, Sir William.
Hamilton, Sir William.
first edition, 3 parts bound in one (including the Supplement), folio (448 x 320mm.), titles and text in English and French, 59 fine hand-coloured plates after Peter Fabris, each framed within a grey wash border, double-page hand-coloured engraved map of the Bay of Naples by Joseph Guerra after Fabris, twentieth-century half calf, flat spine lettered in gilt, marbled edges, a little light spotting, two plates (4 & 8) with small repaired tear (plate 4 partly into image), binding rubbed
from the libraries of sir thomas phillipps (1792-1872) and lord brabourne (1829-1893). Sir Thomas Phillipps, bibliophile, (his sale, Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge, 6 August 1886, lot 1575, £1.2.0 to Lord Brabourne); Edward Hugessen Knatchbull-Hugessen, first baron Brabourne, politician, author and book collector, (his sale, Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge, 13 May 1891, lot 801, £1.14.0). A manuscript note in ink by Lord Brabourne on the verso of the preliminary blank compares the price he paid for this, the Phillipps copy, with the Stourhead copy which fetched £1.19.0 (30 July 1883), and the Gosford copy with fetched £2.15.0 (21 April 1884) and finishes by stating "this was a very cheap book". Lord Brabourne was the son of Jane Austen's niece, Fanny Knight, and inherited a large number of her letters, which he compiled and published in 1884 as both a biography and a collection of letters.
Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803) was an avid collector and antiquarian and as British envoy to the court of Naples was well placed to study the volcanoes of this region. He climbed Vesuvius on more than twenty, frequently dangerous, occasions and witnessed it erupting. Hamilton commissioned the artist Peter Fabris to accompany him and to draw the volcanoes of Vesuvius, Etna and Solfatara (active and dormant), as well as geological sketches and studies. The first set of plates published in 1776 range from general views, eruptions in progress, to detailed depictions of rocks and lava specimens. Three years later a supplement (present here) with five plates was published, showing the eruption of Vesuvius in August 1779. The bold colours that were added to the lightly etched plates were applied 'under the inspection of the Author', with often highly dramatic results and a number of the plates show Hamilton in his characteristic red coat. The text includes Hamilton's series of letters to the Royal Society. He presented his collection of minerals and volcanic stone to the British Museum in 1767.
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