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Article

Mercedes Agueda

(b Andria, Puglia, Jan 24, 1705; d Bologna, Sept 16, 1782).

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.

In 1737 he went to the Spanish court in Madrid, where he was warmly welcomed by Philip V and the queen, Isabel Farnese, and his success there continued under Ferdinand VI, from whom he received the title of Royal Servant (Criado Real), an annual salary of 1500 English guineas and in 1750 was further honoured with the Order of Calatrava. He was an influential and cultivated figure in court circles; the King, who was prone to hypochondria, found relief only in Farinelli’s singing. His privileged position enabled him to help the impoverished family of the Italian architect ...

Article

Shearer West

(b Hereford, Feb 19, 1717; d London, Jan 20, 1779).

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 he bought Fuller House at Hampton, near London, employing Robert Adam to make improvements to the house and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to design the gardens. Garrick later commissioned Johan Zoffany to paint conversation pieces showing his new estate, such as Mr and Mrs Garrick by the Shakespeare Temple at Hampton (c. 1762; priv. col., see 1975 exh. cat., no. 83). Zoffany also painted for Garrick a series of theatrical conversation pieces showing the actor in his best roles, including Mr Garrick in the Character of the Farmer Returned from London (exh. London, Soc. Artists GB 1762; priv. col., see 1975 exh. cat., no. 21) and ...

Article

A. S. Ciechanowiecki

(b 1728; d Warsaw, Jan 31, 1800).

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 (1766–74) and in 1775 moved to the palace at Słonim, which he totally rebuilt creating an artistic court, known as the ‘Athens of Polesia’. In 1780 Innocenzo Maraino (fl 1770–96) added a famous theatre and opera house, which seated 2000. At Słonim and at his summer residences of Telechany and Honoratówka he had gardens laid out and follies erected, and he was instrumental in the reconstruction of his wife’s palatial residence in Siedlce. He established two major artistic manufactories on his properties. The first in Telechany (1780) made maiolica in the international late Baroque style, but after Orgiński’s visit to England in ...

Article

Alain Gruber

(b Besançon, Oct 25, 1745; d Besançon, Aug 1, 1819).

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 1760 to study under the architect Louis-François Trouard, and after three unsuccessful attempts at the Prix de Rome in 1766, 1768 and 1769, he obtained the support of the Marquis de Marigny and the Duc d’Aumont with his project for entertainments at the wedding of the Dauphin and Marie-Antoinette, planned for 1770. He then went to the Académie de France in Rome as tutor to Trouard’s young son. During his five years there he associated with Cardinal de Bernis, Charles de Wailly, Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Bergeret de Grancourt and contributed to the Abbé de Saint-Non’s Voyage pittoresque with drawings of antique monuments at Pompeii, Paestum, Herculaneum and elsewhere. He also travelled through Italy, from Sicily to Venice and the Piedmont, and kept travel journals of considerable interest. His many portfolios of architectural drawings were highly successful on his return to Paris and brought him employment: improvements to the Duc d’Aumont’s residence on the Place Louis XV (...

Article

Werner Wilhelm Schnabel

(b Dresden, Nov 3, 1744; d Dresden, April 10, 1818).

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’....