Reference Entry

Hamilton, William

Geoffrey Ashton

in Oxford Art Online


Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T036405

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(b Chelsea, London, 1751; d London, Dec 2, 1801).

English painter and illustrator. The son of one of Robert Adam’s assistants, Hamilton was sent to Rome to be trained as an architectural draughtsman. He studied under Antonio Zucchi (who was later Adam’s chief decorative painter), possibly in Rome from 1766 and in London from 1768. At the Royal Academy Schools from 1769, Hamilton developed into a figure painter and exhibited portraits and subject pictures at the Royal Academy from 1774 to 1801. He became ARA in 1784 and RA in 1789.

Hamilton’s most interesting work pertains to the theatre, particularly Shakespearean. His most distinguished large pictures are the 23 he painted for John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, including A Scene from ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ (Act 4, scene i; London, Drury Lane Theat.). Also in the 1790s he contributed illustrations to Bowyer’s History of England and Thomas Macklin’s Bible and British Poets. Nevertheless, his pleasantly plump and youthful figures were better suited to the less pretentious format of book illustration than that of history painting. His attractive romantic scenes appear in many editions of 18th-century poets as well as in John Bell’s second editions of ...

Reference Entry.  327 words. 

Subjects: Graphic Design and Typography ; Painting ; Architecture ; Book Arts and Illustration ; 18th-Century Art

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