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Mercedes Agueda

Italian singer, choreographer and collector. He was castrated as the result of an accident at an early age, following which he dedicated himself to singing, studying with the great teacher Nicola Antonio Porpora (1686–1766), who took him to Rome in 1722. He enjoyed a series of triumphs in the musical circles of Naples and Bologna and at the courts of Vienna and London....

Article

Shearer West

English actor-manager, patron and collector. He began his acting career in London in 1737, and managed Drury Lane theatre from 1747 to 1776. His increasing fortune inspired him to patronise the arts both as a means of self-advertisement and to enhance his status. In 1755...

Article

A. S. Ciechanowiecki

Grand Hetman of Lithuania, Polish politician, amateur painter, musician and patron. He instigated and financed the ‘Ogiński canal’, which joined the confluents of the Baltic with those of the Black Sea, and he was responsible for some of the most important highways in eastern Poland. He reconstructed and redecorated the castle of Nieborów near Warsaw (...

Article

Alain Gruber

French architect and stage designer. He was the son of Pierre-François Pâris, a master builder turned architect. He was brought up in the modest court of the Prince-Bishop of Basle at Porrentruy in Switzerland, where from 1750 his father was official architect and topographer. He went to Paris probably in ...

Article

Werner Wilhelm Schnabel

German courtier, composer, collector and writer. He served from 1761 in the army of Frederick-Augustus II, Elector of Saxony, and subsequently occupied various positions at the Saxon court. As Directeur des Plaisirs he was in charge of the orchestra and theatre at Dresden. He was also a member of various learned societies, including the Akademie der Künste und mechanischen Wissenschaften in Berlin. As a courtier enjoying the special favour of the elector, Racknitz wielded great influence in promoting musical and artistic life in Dresden. His own activities included musical composition and the natural sciences, but he was especially interested in mineralogy and mechanics, and he established a renowned collection of minerals and plants. In addition to this he published several books on the history of civilization and art. Early works are concerned with general themes, but in his later years he was particularly interested in painting in Saxony. In his varied interests, Racknitz viewed questions from a practical as well as a theoretical point of view. He was thus a typical representative of the versatile late Enlightenment and the ‘age of Goethe’....