Vertu (collections)

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Vertu is a loosely defined category of objects of art appealing to curiosity or to an interest in the Western classical era. Examples of vertu might include Greek and Roman antiquities, classical sculpture, or particularly fine science-related collections (e.g., minerals or biological specimens). Collection of vertu was fashionable among certain aristocrats and royalty at the close of the 18th century, and the term was sometimes used metaphorically; devoted collector Sir William Hamilton was said to have at one point described Emma Hamilton, then his mistress and noted for her pantomimes of certain works of art, as a fine "piece of modern vertu."


  • Fraser, Flora, Emma, Lady Hamilton. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987.