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Thomas Rowlandson followed a long cultural tradition in using musical performance as both context and metaphor for desire and seduction. In particular, he explored the visual pun of ‘fingering’ by depicting pairs or groups of figures around a keyboard, as in the present example in which a young female pianist is surprised by the uncomfortably close proximity of her elderly auditor. The encounter is emphasised by both the title of the piece that she plays and the alarm shown by her pet parrot. The whole provides a contrast to another, much earlier image by Rowlandson – Music has charms to soothe the savage breast – in which the man who has been listening to a young female pianist has fallen fast asleep.