9. att. to John Vanderbank (1694-1739),
formerly attributed to Hogarth

Senesino, Cuzzoni and Berenstadt in Handel’s Opera “Flavio”

(click on image to print)
att. to Vanderbank, Senesino

Senesino, Cuzzoni and Berenstadt in Handel’s Opera “Flavio”

Etching, 1723, Paulsen 266 iii/iii, 190 x 266 mm. Fine impression on heavy laid paper with large margins, with a pencil inscription giving a different identification of the scene and singers. Among the great enthusiasms in London in the eighteenth century was the Italian opera, many of them written by the great George Frederick Handel and starring Italian castrato singers. This is one of the few prints known depicting a castrato singer on stage in an actual performance and, despite the satiric exaggeration of the singer’s body here, such castrati were the toasts of the town. Though the print is presumably not by Hogarth, he was certainly aware of it, as the image is quoted in another of his prints (Masquerades and Operas, Burlington Gate). The attribution to Vanderbank comes from a print in the British Museum, formerly in the collection of the Dutchess of Portland and inscribed by her that it was given to her by Vanderbank’s mother who said “he drew it from seeing it at the opera.” But that particular impression is believed to be a copy of the original. A print, then, of unknown authorship, but rare and socially, musically and artistically important.

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