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Masquerade at the King's Theatre, Haymarket
Giuseppe Grisoni, 1724
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Flanders-born Giuseppe Grisoni (1699-1769) studied in Florence under the artist Tommaso Redi (1665-1726). After a brief sojourn to London with the painter John Talmann (1677-1726), Grisoni returned to Florence where he remained until 1740, working as a teacher at the Academy and turning out portraits and historical paintings. After 1740, Grisoni lived in Rome until the end of his life.
Though this painting is not as finely painted as most of Grisoni's work, it has been attributed to him nonetheless on the basis of a recorded remark, dated May of 1724, by George Vertue which suggests, "Mr Grisoni painter of Florence… has made a fine picture representing the masquerade with various habits."
The canvas depicts a masquerade on the stage of the King's Theatre in Haymarket. This was an opera house which was built by Sir John Vanbrught in 1704-05. The masquerades at the King's Theatre, often emulating the Venetian Carnival, became a tradition after a popular debut in 1711. This work achieves its primary goal of preserving the opulence of the event--showing the luxurious cakes and foods, the gleaming chandeliers and the sumptuous fancy dress.