The Marquess of Northampton's soirée

Henry Harrison1847

The Royal Society

The Royal Society
London, United Kingdom

Interior scene, showing the conversazione held by the President of the Royal Society, the Marquis of Northampton, on 13 February 1847. The company of guests is shown in a series of interlocking rooms, with a large chandelier above. Towards the centre of the group of soirée visitors is Prince Albert, apparently in conversation with his host. Among the demonstration piece exhibits is William Little’s double-action printing machine, on the right of the illustration.

Cutting from the Illustrated London News, 20 February 1847, p.117. Captioned below: ‘THE ROYAL SOCIETY. – THE MARQUIS OF NORTHAMPTON’S SOIREE, ON SATURDAY LAST. – (SEE NEXT PAGE.)’. Initialled lower left: ‘G.T.’; and signed lower right ‘HARRISON Sc.’

The evening event was held at the Marquis of Northampton’s London home on The Terrace, Piccadilly. The location of the conversazione is described in contemporary accounts: ‘The suite of saloons is four in number: the first, facing Piccadilly, being the reception-room. The several apartments are decorated in that quiet, elegant style by which the older London mansions of our nobility are so happily distinguished…It is customary, at réunions like the present, to assemble models of new inventions, rare works of art, and other productions of genius, for the gratification of the company’.

This account goes on to described the objects on display, including a large working model of Mr. Little’s double-action printing machine, the attendance of James Holman (‘the blind traveller’) and the visit of Prince Albert. ‘The Marquis of Northampton’s soirée’, in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, vol.7, January-June 1847, pp.264-266.

Henry Harrison (active 1840s) British engraver.


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