Laniere, Nicholas

, an artist of various talents in the seventeenth century, was born in Italy, and appears to have come over to England in the time of James I. He had a great share in the purchases of pictures made for the royal collection. He drew for Charles I. a picture of Mary, Christ, and Joseph; his own portrait done by himself with a pallet and pencils in his hand, and musical notes on a scrip of paper, is in the music-school at Oxford. He also employed himself in etching, but his fame was most considerable as a musician. It is mentioned in the folio edition of Ben Jonson’s works, printed 1640, that in 1617, his whole masque, which was performed at the house of lord Hay, for the entertainment of the French ambassador, was set to music after the Italian manner, stilo recitativo, by Nic. Laniere, who was not only ordered to set the music, but to paint the scenes. This short piece being wholly in rhyme, though without variation in the measure, to distinguish airs from recitation, as it was all in musical declamation, may be safely pronounced the first attempt at an opera in the Italian manner, after the invention of recitative. In the same year, the masque called “The Vision of Delight,” was presented at court during Christmas by the same author; and in it, says Dr. Burney, we have all the characteristics of a genuine opera, or musical drama of modern times complete: splendid scenes and machinery; poetry; musical recitation; air; chorus; and dancing. Though the music of this masque is not to be found, yet of Laniere’s “Musica narrativa” we have several examples, printed by Playford in the collections of the time; particularly the “Ayres and Dialogues,1653, and the second part of the “Musical Companion,” which appeared in 1667; and in which his | music to the dialogues is infinitely superior to the rest; there is melody, measure, and meaning in it. His recitative is more like that of his countrymen at present, than any contemporary Englishman’s. However, these dialogues were composed before the laws and phraseology of recitative were settled, even in Italy. His cantata of “Hero and Leander” was much celebrated during these times, and the recitative regarded as a model of true Italian musical declamation. Laniere died at the age of seventyeight, and was buried in St. Martin’s in the Fields, Nov. 4, 1646. 1


Walpole’s Anecdotes.—Dr. Burney in Rees’s Cyclopædia.