James Thornhill was an eminent figure in the London art world. In 1714 he replaced Kneller as the Governor of the Great Queen Street artists? academy. Shortly after he was made a member of the Virtuosi of St Luke, the most prestigious art club.
In 1718 Thornhill hosted the club?s annual feast at his house in the Piazza, Covent Garden. This ink sketch is a preliminary design for the invitation card. A jovial centaur points to a canvas showing St Luke, patron saint of artists, painting the Virgin and Child. St Paul?s church, Covent Garden, appears in the background.