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COGNOCENTI contemplating Beauties Etching James Gillray

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A COGNOCENTI contemplating ye Beauties of ye Antique.


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Original antique print


Slightly reduced sized impression of Gillray's etching published by John Miller, c1820. Gillray shows connoisseur, archaeologist, and diplomat Sir William Hamilton surrounded by works of art that refer to the well-known affair between his wife, Lady Emma Hamilton, and the naval hero Horatio Nelson. Hamilton studies a damaged bust of Lais, the beautiful mistress of the classical philosopher Aristippus of Cyrene, which here represents Lady Hamilton. Framed pictures on the wall reinforce the theme of adultery. Lady Hamilton as Cleopatra offers a glass of gin to an adjacent picture of Marc Antony, who resembles Nelson. Hamilton as the Roman emperor Claudius, who was betrayed by his wife, is framed under a cuckold's antlers. A picture of an erupting volcano refers to Hamilton's research on earthquakes and volcanoes, which he published in several treatises between 1772 and 1783, including Observations on Mount Vesuvius. Acid free mount.

Additional Information

artist James Gillray (1756-1815)
method Etching with original hand-colouring
date C1820
size 285mm by 220mm (platemark)
SKU CL4654