Farinelli, Mozart, and the “Chimney Sweeper”: Leopold Mozart’s pictures of working children

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Abstract / Description of output

This article is a contribution to understanding the role of visual culture in the early education and development of Mozart. The starting-point is Leopold Mozart’s fascination with printed images, revealed through correspondence and through surviving prints formerly in his collection. This paper adds to knowledge of Leopold’s artistic interests by identifying (for the first time) a set of prints recorded in the so-called Licitations Protocoll, an official account of material goods in Leopold’s estate at the time of his death. The prints in question were created in the later 1730s in London, where Leopold probably acquired them during the family’s visit in 1764-65. They are by Joseph Wagner, reproducing images created by his master, the Italian painter Amiconi. The set’s connection with the famous castrato Farinelli provides a possible incentive for Leopold’s acquisition. Another is its iconography, which made a formative contribution to changing attitudes to child workers at the time of the Mozarts’ visit to London, a material of considerable social concern in London during the second half of the eighteenth century. All four images depict children at work, subject matter here shown to have had a bearing on performances given by Leopold’s children during the family’s stay in London. The subject of one of the prints, a chimney sweeper was subsequently recalled by both Leopold and his son, emerging as a topic of contention between them in the aftermath of Wolfgang’s rift with his Salzburg employer. This evidence sheds light on the uses of visual culture within the Mozart family and how this had the potential to affect the relationship between father and son.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImago Musicae
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Yearbook of Musical Iconography
PublisherLibreria Musicale Italiana
Number of pages52
ISBN (Electronic)9788870969528
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameImago Musicae


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