Gavin Hamilton

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Gavin Hamilton, 1778
(draftsman: Ozias Humphry )

Gavin Hamilton (* 1723 in Lanark , Lanarkshire , Scotland , † January 4, 1798 in Rome ) was a Scottish history and portrait painter , archaeologist and art dealer . As a painter, he is considered a pioneer of classicism , which he represented with a rather academic style of painting.


He came from the Scottish aristocratic family of the Hamiltons from Murdieston (Lanarkshire). He first studied Greek at the University of Glasgow . From 1748 he studied and lived in Rome, where Agostino Masucci (1690–1768) was his teacher. In the years 1752 to 1754, however, he briefly returned to England and Scotland.

In Rome he was a member of the Academy of English Professors of the Liberal Arts . He was also welcomed together with Thomas Jenkins on February 2, 1761 at the Accademia di San Luca as Accademici di merito . His history paintings are considered to be the first of the emerging classicism . He painted portraits for the British aristocracy . He was also involved in the wall paintings in the Villa Borghese .

From 1764 to 1767 the Scottish painter and illustrator David Allan (1744–1796) was one of his students. Hamilton's circle of friends included u. a. Anton Raphael Mengs and Johann Joachim Winckelmann as well as the young Angelika Kauffmann .

In 1769, Hamilton took part in the archaeological excavations of the Villa Adriana of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and was also involved in excavations in parts of the Via Appia and in Ostia Antica . He is considered to be the most successful archaeological excavator of the second half of the century.

British on their Grand Tour in Rome
(painter: James Russel, around 1750)

Hamilton is considered one of the most prominent among all artists and collectors in 18th century Europe. Although he had actually come to Rome to improve his talent as a painter and to expand his knowledge of antiquity , he soon found himself among the large number of British travelers who were visiting Italy on their fashionable Grand Tour to either buy a collection to build on works of art or antique finds or to expand their collection there. It was therefore fairly easy for Hamilton to start an art trade. In the course of time this trade became his most important occupation, with which he eventually made his name in the art world. He had contacts with the most famous art collectors. Today such famous works of art as Leonardo da Vinci's Rock Grotto Madonna ( National Gallery , London ), Domenico Tintoretto's The Adoration of the Shepherds ( Fitzwilliam Museum , Cambridge ) and Salvator Rosas Pythagoras ( Kimbell Art Museum , Fort Worth ) passed through his hands.


  • as editor: Schola Italica Picturae , 41 copper engravings, Rome 1773


Web links

Commons : Gavin Hamilton  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Robert Cumming: Art . In: Compact & Visual . Dorling Kindersley Verlag GmbH, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-8310-3137-5 , p. 241 .
  2. ^ The General Biographical Dictionary. 1814, p. 89 ( ) - Murdieston House is not his place of birth, but the ancestral home of his family branch .
  3. Steffi Roettgen: Anton Raphael Mengs 1728–1779. Volume 1, Verlag Hirmer, 2003, ISBN 3-7774-7900-4 , p. 491.
  4. Hadrian's Villa . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 7, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 996.