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Paintings: G0701


John Quick


Oil on canvas



Spado : The Castle of Andalusia



Height: 76cm
Width: 63cm
height (frame): 85cm
width (frame): 72cm

Other materials

(Indications of oval frame)


Thomas Harris; Harris sale, Robins 12 July 1819 (25); Charles Mathews

Other number

Mathews 153
RW/CKA 420

Exhibition history

1794 London, R. A. (268) 1833 London, Queen's Bazaar, Oxford Street, "Mr Mathews's Gallery of Theatrical Portraits" (153) 1982-3 London, Royal Academy, "Royal Opera House Retrospective 1732-1982" (128) 1997 London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, "Dramatic Art Theatrical Paintings from the Garrick Club" (10)

Engraving history

William Ridley for the “Monthly Mirror” pub. Vernor and Hood January 1802, stipple 8.7 x 7.2 (oval)


“Morning Herald” 22 March 1794; John O'Keeffe “Recollections” (1826) 2: 326-27; Hayes 1968

Spado is one of a group of bandits led by Don Caesar who plan to rob the castle of Don Scipio. Spado manages to insinuate himself into the building, hoping for extra personal gain. There are many references in the text to Quick's small stature; he is known as "little Spado," and in Act III, scene 3, sings an air, "Tho' born to be little's my fate." There is even a quip on Quick's name in Act III, scene 1: Sanguino says "Massy plate! Quick, quick, the master key." Spado's name relates to the small cut and thrust sword, thought particularly Spanish in the 18th century, rather than to his being a eunuch.
Spado smiles conspiratorially under his grey hat edged in red and with red feathers. He wears a light-brown tunic decorated with darker brown lines, lace ruff and cuffs, and a broad brown band over his right shoulder, edged in darker brown and tied with brown ribbons. He holds a pistol in front of him.
O'Keeffe's three-act comic opera, with music mainly by Samuel Arnold, was first performed at Covent Garden on 2 November 1782. Quick was the original Spado, but the great excitement of the evening was the début of Signora Sestini on the English-speaking stage. This portrait is mentioned in the “Morning Herald” of 22 March 1794.
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