Souvenir fan of the Royal Fireworks, hand-coloured etching on paper, with ivory sticks

London, 1749

In October 1748 a treaty was signed at Aix-la-Chapelle ending the War of Austrian Succession. The war - sparked off in 1740 by Maria Theresa's claim to inherit the Habsburg territories from her father Emperor Charles VI - was an episode in the jockeying for position by European powers that continued throughout the century. Britain's main interest was to gain access to and maintain lucrative trade routes to the Americas that were controlled by France and Spain. The treaty failed to settle matters and skirmishing continued in the early 1750s, finally emerging again into all-out war in 1756.

The official celebration of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle took place on 17 April 1749 in the northern part of St James's Park, now called Green Park. A huge temporary structure was erected for a firework display organised by the famous Italian pyrotechnist, Giovanni Niccolo Servandoni in collaboration with the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich. £8,000 was spent and 10,000 rockets were let off, but the evening ended in chaos when one wing of the structure caught fire. The most enduring success of the day was the overture specially composed by Handel for the celebrations - the Music for the Royal Fireworks.

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Height: 160.000 mm
Width: 420.000 mm (approx.)

Museum number

PD 1891-7-13-76


Gify of Lady Charlotte Schreiber (1891)


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