Yale University Library News

The Other Hamilton: Sir William Hamilton & the Revolution in C18th Collecting

October 20, 2016

The annual Van Sinderen lecture will be held on Tuesday, October 25 at 4:30 pm in the Beinecke Library, rooms 38 & 39. All are welcome to attend.

With its striking ocher and black hand-painted illustrations of Greek vases, Pierre-François Hugues d’Hancarville’s Collection of Etruscan, Greek, and Roman Antiquities from the Cabinet of the Honble. Wm. Hamilton in four large folio volumes (Naples, 1766–67) is a monumental textual artifact. This lecture examines the book in its contemporary contexts and considers how its representation of ancient artifacts occasioned a series of subsequent material representations—with remarkable cultural consequence. How does the material book, itself a collectible artifact, both depict and distort the historical object? What versions of antiquity ensue in print and replica, and how do their embodiments shape the activities of both museum and marketplace? We will consider how Hamilton’s Cabinet gave rise to a fashion for collecting in France, Italy, and England. With the rise of antiquaries and the presentation of their collections in books as well as exhibitions, how are the library and the museum united in the accumulation and display of artifacts—and in the knowledge that comes from reading historical collections with the book in hand?

Michael F. Suarez, S.J., is University Professor and Director of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. He is a Distinguished Presidential Fellow of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and was recently nominated by President Obama to be a member of the National Council on the Humanities. His 2015 series of Lyell Lectures in Bibliography at the University of Oxford will be published by Oxford University Press next year.