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'The Music Party'

1 of 7 portraits of Princess Amelia Sophia Eleanora

'The Music Party', by Philip Mercier, 1733 - NPG 1556 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

'The Music Party'

by Philip Mercier
oil on canvas, 1733
17 3/4 in. x 22 3/4 in. (451 mm x 578 mm)
Purchased, 1909
Primary Collection
NPG 1556


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Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • Philip Mercier (1691-1760), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 26 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

George II did not allow his son Frederick to come to London until the age of twenty. The prince soon established himself as a focus of political opposition to his father and became the patron of the most avant-garde artists of the time. In this portrait the 26-year-old Prince is shown playing the bass-viol with three of his younger sisters; from left to right, Anne, Princess Royal (age 24) at the harpsichord, Princess Caroline (age 20) plucking a mandora (a form of lute) and Princess Amelia (age 22) reading from Milton. In the background is the Dutch House at Kew where Anne lived before her marriage in 1734 to Prince William of Orange. The suggestion of harmony between the siblings belies the antipathy felt by his family for Frederick; it is said that he was hardly on speaking terms with Anne in the year that this portrait was painted. More detailed information on this portrait is available in a National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue, John Kerslake's Early Georgian Portraits (1977, out of print).

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1733back to top

Current affairs

Prime Minister Robert Walpole narrowly escapes defeat in the House of Lords over the investigation into the South Sea affair. His Excise scheme, introduced the previous year, also provokes widespread resistance among merchants and is withdrawn. Sugar and Molasses Act is passed by Parliament to tax British colonists in North America.

Art and science

John Kay, working in the Lancashire woollen industry, patents the flying shuttle to speed up weaving. Poet Alexander Pope publishes his philosophical Essay on Man, which proposes a system of ethics in poetic form. Clergyman Stephen Hales publishes the second volume of his Statical Essays, Haemastaticks, describing the measurement of the 'force of the blood', later known as blood pressure.

International

Philip V of Spain and Louis XV of France sign the Treaty of Escurial and form an alliance against Britain. Voltaire publishes Letters on the English Nation comparing France unfavourably with England. British colonist James Oglethorpe founds Savannah, Georgia.

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