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This scene combines the eighteenth-century French taste for the exotic and the amorous, to which a piquant resonance has been added by the artist’s depiction of his wife, the opera singer Christina Antonia Somis, known to contemporaries as the ‘Philomel of Turin’. She sings a fashionable aria of the day, ‘Si caro, si’, from Handel’s opera 'Admeto'. The picture was exhibited at the Salon of 1737, together with its pendant, 'The Grand Turk having his Mistress Painted' (Richmond, Virginia, Museum of Fine Arts), in which Van Loo portrayed himself as the artist.
oil on canvas
H 72.5 x W 91 cm
acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, 1867; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897