A Bravura at the Hanover Square Concert

A Bravura at the Hanover Square Concert

by John Nixon
pen and ink and brown wash, 1789
9 1/4 in. x 6 5/8 in. (235 mm x 168 mm)
Purchased, 1978
Primary Collection
NPG 5179

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Sittersback to top

  • James Cervetto (1747-1837), Cellist and composer. Sitter in 2 portraits.
  • Luigi Marchesi (1755-1829), Italian male soprano. Sitter in 3 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • John Nixon (1760-1818). Artist associated with 7 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Between 1783 and 1793, the Hanover Square Rooms in London hosted a series of concerts which featured some of the most fashionable Italian musicians of the day. Pictured here are Luigi Marchesi, called Marchesini, one of the last great 'castrati', and the cellist, James Cervetto. Below them in the pit the artist has drawn a vignette of members of the audience. An unidentified member of the aristocracy wearing the sash and star of the garter can be seen in addition to a gentleman whose face, much like Marchesini's, bears the scars of smallpox. Hidden in the shadows at the far left is the cellist's father, the musician Giacobbe Cervetto, listening intently to his son's playing.

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Events of 1789back to top

Current affairs

George III recovers from the previous year's illness. The 'Regency Crisis' and attendant political wrangling between the Tory Prime Minister William Pitt and the pro-Whig Prince of Wales end. Dismissed as a 'bilious attack', George's sickness was in fact the first sign of the mental health problems which led to the Prince of Wales's appointment as Regent in 1811.

Art and science

John Boydell's ambitious new Shakespeare Gallery opens in Pall Mall, displaying works by Britain's leading artists and attempting to combine urban entertainment with the promotion of British history painting.
Philosopher Jeremy Bentham publishes An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, outlining his 'greatest happiness principle'.


George Washington is elected first President of the United States.
The French Revolution begins. The storming of the Bastille on the 14 July marks the overthrow of the absolute monarchy in France. The uprising followed the establishment of a governing National Assembly of the people's representatives.

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