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This is Laroon’s earliest-known oil painting. Trained as an artist by his father, Laroon was also proficient in fencing, dancing, French and music. Two of his interests combine here in a musical conversation piece, showing members of polite society and musicians interacting in a mildly satirical scene. The gentleman standing behind the table in semi-profile wearing a blue garter sash and star is Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Earl of Peterborough (1658-1735). The gathering may be at his house in Fulham. The woman at his side is possibly Anastasia Robinson, a distinguished singer then at the outset of her operatic career.

October 2013