A Cognocenti contemplating ye Beauties of ye Antique
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A Cognocenti contemplating ye Beauties of ye Antique is a caricature by Gillray, first published on 11 February 1801
SUMMARY: An elderly Sir William Hamilton inspecting his antiquities, all of which refer to his wife, Lady Emma Hamilton and her lover, Horatio Nelson. In the background hang four pictures on the wall: "Cleopatra", a picture of Lady Hamilton with her breasts exposed, holding a gin bottle; "Mark Antony", Lord Nelson with a sea battle in background: an erupting volcano; and a portrait of Hamilton, facing away from the other paintings.
According to Wright & Evans, Historical and Descriptive Account of the Caricatures of James Gillray (1851, OCLC 59510372), p. 462, "A portrait of the celebrated antiquary and diplomatist, whose lady figures in the preceding print. It is not difficult to guess the allusions in many of the articles he is contemplating. Lady Hamilton as Cleopatra (She is represented in the character of Cleopatra in Boydell's Plates to Shakespeare"), and Nelson as Mark Antony, with himself in the character of Claudius—he was a great lover of the table—are the pictures which adorn the walls.