Pierre-François Hugues d'Hancarville  

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Pierre-François Hugues, known as 'baron d'Hancarville' (Nancy 1719 - Padua 1805) was an art historian and historian of ideas. Son of a bankrupt cloth merchant of Nancy, Hancarville was born Pierre-Francois Hugues, adding the title ‘Baron’ and the aristocratic surname Hancarville himself.

He as an intimus of William Hamilton, Charles Towneley and Richard Payne Knight.


Les Antiquités d'Hancarville

An amateur art dealer he introduced William Hamilton to the Porcinari family, whose collection of antiquities Hamilton purchased forming the basis of the collection that was subsequently sold to the British Museum. With Hamilton he edited Les Antiquités d'Hancarville published in 4 volumes 1766-67, a collection of vases and other antiquities from the excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii; one of the most beautiful books ever made, it was influential in informing the emerging taste for neoclassicism and inspired reproductions from pottery manufacturers such as Wedgwood. In 1769 Hancarville was forced to flee his creditors in Naples.

Clandestine work

Hancarville also produced two pornographic volumes under fictitious imprints:
Monumens de la vie privée des douze Césars, d'après une suite de pierres gravées sous leur règne (Capri, chez Sabellus, 1780)
Monumens du culte secret des dames romaines ("Rome. De l'Imprimerie du Vatican, 1787")

These were widely pirated, in variously incompetent editions, during his lifetime.


See also

Veneres et Priapi, uti observantur in gemmis antiquis

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