Most of the Hamilton Gallery’s collection of pre-nineteenth century European art, with the notable exception of its Paul Sandby and print collection, comes from the extraordinarily rich Herbert and May Shaw bequest.
The Shaw gift to the gallery consists of more than 781 items, with a strong focus on the decorative arts, including Derby and Meissen porcelain, glassware, silver, miniatures, snuffboxes, and objets d’art such as small figurines and plaques.
Hamilton Gallery is also fortunate to possess several of Paul Sandby’s (1731–1809) ambitious large-scale exhibition watercolours, including one from his series of images of Windsor and its environs. In 1972, the State Government of Victoria purchased for the Gallery a large collection of works by Paul Sandby (1731-1809). Sandby was a foundation member of the Royal Academy and the earliest English artist of note to exploit the media of watercolour and gouache. He was also a fine etcher, a great innovator – the art of aquatint printing was developed in England largely as a result of his early enthusiasm for this technique. Hamilton’s large collection of Sandby’s charming 18th century English landscapes is unrivalled in Australia.