Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852) as patron and collector - NMS Research Repository
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Doctoral thesis

Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852) as patron and collector

2009

Abstract

This thesis examines the patronage and collecting of Alexander, l0th Duke of Hamilton, premier peer of Scotland, son-in-law of the maniacal collector William Beckford, and arguably the greatest collector in the history of Scotland. Using archival evidence from many sources, it begins with investigations of the Duke's early collecting of Italian Renaissance paintings and manuscripts, acquisitions associated with Russia between 1807 and 1814, involvement with Princess Pauline Borghese and the Bonaparte family, and purchases of porphyry and marble in Rome between 1817 and 1827. Chapters 5 and 6 focus on the extension and refurbishment of Hamilton Palace between 1822 and 1832 and parallel purchases of furniture, furnishings and applied art. Special attention is paid to motivation and the acquisition of items from the Fonthill sale, tapestries made for Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, furniture owned by Marie-Antoinette, Napoleon's 1810 tea service, bronze statues (wrongly) associated with Francis I of France - which served to underline the Duke's status and "support" his claim to the French dukedom of Chatellerault - and porphyry busts of Roman emperors that were "superior" to the bronze copies in the British royal collection. Chapter 7 reviews the last grand projects: the extremely expensive great black marble staircase, planned equestrian monument of the Duke as Marcus Aurelius, and Hamilton Mausoleum. The final chapter concentrates on the later purchases of Classical items and plaster copies, second marble bust of Princess Pauline, Thorvaldsen 's Napoleon Apotheosized, and Old Master paintings, and discusses how the Duke displayed his collection, in colourways, running sequences, clusters, and "end statements". A ''post mortem " conclusion sketches out the continuity of collecting Napoleonic material, as a consequence of the Duke's son and heir's marriage to the daughter of the adopted daughter of Napoleon and cousin of Napoleon Ill and the dispersal of the collection and demolition of Hamilton Palace between 1880 and 1930.

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