British Museum guidebook, £3.50
Height: 325.000 mm
Width: 200.000 mm
Transferred from the National Gallery, London
Prints and Drawings
Louis Carmontelle, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with his father Leopold and his sister Marie Anne, watercolour and bodycolour
London, 1777 (version of a drawing of 1764)
Mozart, aged eight, is shown here at the harpsichord - poised for performance. His twelve-year-old sister, Maria Anna ('Nannerl'), sings and their father Leopold plays the violin. This is one of a number of early autograph copies of a watercolour (now in the main archive of Carmontelle's work in Chantilly) that was made in Paris shortly before the Mozart family arrived in London in April 1764.
London was at that time an active and lucrative musical market, and Leopold was assured of great artistic and financial rewards following the family's highly successful tour of continental Europe. Performances included concerts at Ranelagh Gardens and the Great Room in Spring Gardens, Charing Cross, and the family played at least twice before George III. The Mozarts also visited the new British Museum to which Wolfgang dedicated a motet, 'God is our refuge', his first sacred composition, written in July 1765.
The family spent its first night in London at the well-known White Bear Inn, Piccadilly, and the next day moved to the house of a barber, John Cousins, in Cecil Court, St. Martin's Lane. In the summer, they moved for the sake of Leopold's health to the suburban calm of Five Fields Row (now Ebury Street), Chelsea, where they remained until late September 1764. Mozart is said to have written his first symphony there. They then moved to Frith Street, Soho, where they remained until the end of their visit in July 1765.