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Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), Diplomat and archaeologist

Diplomat, vulcanologist and antiquary; at Naples as British envoy extraordinary 1764-67 and minister plenipotentiary 1767-1800; FRS 1766; KB 1772; visited London in 1772, 1776-77, 1783-84, 1791, finally returning in 1800; married 1) 1758 Catherine Barlow (d. 1782), 2) 1791 Emma Hart.

‘tall and meagre, with a dark complexion, a very aquiline nose, ... [and] such an air of intelligence, blended with distinction, in his countenance, as powerfully attracted and conciliated all who approached him’ (Sir Nathaniel Wraxall, 1815).

‘With the courage of the elder Pliny, but with better fortune, he has explored the terrific scenes of devastation which Aetna and Vesuvius have of late years presented; scenes which appal the brave to view, and which the timorous shudder even to contemplate’ (European Mag., 1784).

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.