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  • Place of origin:

    London (engraved)

  • Date:

    1749 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Servandoni, Giovanni Niccolo, born 1695 - died 1766 (designer)
    Vertue, George, born 1684 - died 1756 (engraver (printmaker))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraving, ink on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Rev. R. Brooke

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52, The George Levy Gallery, case WS

Object Type
This object is a particular type of print called an engraving. Lines are cut into the flat surface of a metal plate using sharp tools. The engraving is made by transferring ink held in the lines onto a sheet of paper.

Subject Depicted
The peace treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed in 1748, ending the War of Austrian Succession. On 27 April 1749 a firework spectacular took place in St James's Park, London, to celebrate the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. This print shows the large wooden pavilion, painted to resemble stone, that was erected to launch the fireworks. The pavilion was 410 feet long and 114 feet high.

The firework display was not an unqualified success: it rained on the day; the pavilion housing the fireworks caught fire and burned to the ground; and there was a public fight when the pavilion's architect, the Chevalier Servandoni, drew his sword and confronted the organiser of the event, the Duke of Montagu.

The famous English composer George Frideric Handel wrote several pieces to celebrate the signing of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. The most famous of these, the Music for the Royal Fireworks, was performed at the firework spectacular in St James's Park on 27 April 1749. The piece was a great success and is still one of Handel's most frequently performed compositions.

Physical description

Engraving on paper depicting a firework display

Place of Origin

London (engraved)


1749 (dated)


Servandoni, Giovanni Niccolo, born 1695 - died 1766 (designer)
Vertue, George, born 1684 - died 1756 (engraver (printmaker))

Materials and Techniques

Engraving, ink on paper


Height: 44 cm paper, Width: 57 cm paper

Object history note

Designed by Giovanni Niccolo Servandoni (born in 1695, died in Paris, 1766); engraved in London by George Vertue (born in London, 1684, died there in 1756)

Descriptive line

Plan and elevation of the Royal Fireworks, St James's Palace, Designed by Giovanni Niccolo Servandoni, engraved in London by George Vertue, 1749

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) was celebrated in London by a spectacular firework display for which Handel wrote his 'Music for the Royal Fireworks'. Jonathan Tyers negotiated the right to hold a public rehearsal of the music at Vauxhall. The rehearsal was a great success but the performance in St James's Park was a disaster, ruined by rain, a public fight and the burning down of the pavilion. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Plans (drawings); Fireworks (explosive equipment); Palaces; Architecture; Palladian; Reliefs; Elevations (drawings); Balconies; Columns; Sculpture; Coats of arms; Arches


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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