Noctes Ambrosianae

WAG 5143


This etching shows the gallery of the Middlesex Music Hall in Drury Lane, London, familiarly known as the "Mogul Tavern" or the "Old Mo'". The title "Noctes Ambrosianae" seems to refer to nights spent in convivial entertainment at Ambrose's Tavern in Edinburgh. But Tom Lubbock, writing in the Independent, says that the title is a rather laboured pun: "Ambrosian Nights: ambrosia is the food of the gods; "the gods" is the theatrical nickname for the gallery, the high place where the lowest classes, and the impecunious, sit. Maybe there's a suggestion that it's this part of the audience that enjoys the show most freely and heartily, so they are godlike in their pleasure . . . " [] There are three other versions of this composition: a painting in the City of Nottingham Museum [LB. 11]; another painting is at Birmingham Museums and Art Galleries; and there is a pastel in the collection of the late Morton Sands.