A Brief Note on Herculaneum and Pompeii in The 18th Century.
During the 18th century Naples increased in importance thanks to the excavations carried out at Herculaneum and Pompeii. Grand Tourists in Rome, especially if they had a taste for the ancient world, would make the journey south to see these sites and sights. The finds from Herculaneum would be exhibited in a museum near the site, which tourists would visit after the city of Naples itself. The domestic was emphasised since a Roman kitchen had been re-created complete with ancient utensils. Interestingly, drawings of Herculaneum and Pompeii were strictly forbidden unless a patron could use their clout as in the case of Hackert who produced rare paintings of Pompeii (above) , only because he was Official Painter to the King of Naples. A third site was Paestum in the Gulf of Salerno, formerly a colony of ancient Greece which boasted three surviving temples which enjoyed the attention of artists like Piranesi, John Robert Cozens and Elizabeth Vigée LeBrun. One of the most impressive renditions of Paestum is Piranesi’s etching which captures the gloomy grandeur of the ruins, also of great interest to architects. All of this week’s topics might seem isolated, but they are all tightly bound together. Sir William Hamilton developed his career during the Bourbon dynasty, carried out his researches against a backdrop of Neapolitan culture including the city and its people. As for his interest in antiquity, he employed the same research principles to collecting antique vases as he did in pioneering volcanology in the Neapolitan peninsular. He made the mountain portable and placed it in a lavishly decorated setting as he did with his vases, some of which like the Portland Vase were given by him to the British Museum. So Hamilton’s collection consisted of the volcano, the antique vases, and to it he was to add the beautiful young woman Emma Hamilton, née Hart, the third component of Hamilton’s collection- the “ideal of the female body in motion.” From the discovery of Herculaneum in 1709 to the end of the Bourbon dynasty in 1860, the two cities had a problematical relationship. Using metaphor, modern commentators have suggested that Pompeii was the light city to Herculaneum’s dark. Pompeii was a ruined city open to the sun on the surface whilst Herculaneum mainly lay buried in darkness underground. Metaphors aside, over the centuries Pompeii has eclipsed its companion, almost becoming shorthand for both. From the point of view of the Grand Tour, as Dwyer points out, the physical situations of the two cities has determined the different ways that artists and visitors in general have approached them. The subterranean Herculaneum posed difficulties for the iconographer; the open Pompeii on the other hand was easier to map since it lent itself to aerial perspective. Then there was the slow pace of the excavations which drew the criticism of visitors on the Grand Tour as mentioned above.
 David Irwin, Neoclassicism, (Phaidon, 1997), 37f.
 Ibid, 41.
 David D. Nolta, “The Body of the Collector and the Collected body in William Hamilton’s Naples”, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1, 1997, 108-114, 110.
 For an interesting use of this metaphor deriving from Susan Sontag’s comparison of Pompeii/Herculaneum to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in her novel on William Hamilton, see Eugene J. Dwyer, “Pompeii verses Herculaneum” In Rediscovering the Ancient World, 247-266.
 Dwyer notes that despite’s the sun-lit Pompeii, it yielded up more dead bodies.