Thomas Rowlandson

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Thomas Rowlandson
Thomas Rowlandson portrait.jpg
Thomas Rowlandson, pencil sketch by George Henry Harlow, 1814
Born(1756-07-13)13 July 1756
Died21 April 1827(1827-04-21) (aged 70)
OccupationArtist

Thomas Rowlandson ( /ˈrləndsən/ ; 13 July 1756 – 21 April 1827) [1] was an English artist and caricaturist of the Georgian Era, noted for his political satire and social observation. A prolific artist and printmaker, Rowlandson produced a wide variety of illustrations for novels, joke books, and topographical works. Like other contemporary pre-Victorian caricaturists like James Gillray, he too depicted characters in bawdy postures and he also produced erotica which was censured by the 1840s. His caricatures included those of people in power such as the Duchess of Devonshire, William Pitt and Napoleon Bonaparte.

James Gillray British caricaturist and printmaker

James Gillray was a British caricaturist and printmaker famous for his etched political and social satires, mainly published between 1792 and 1810. Many of his works are held at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Contents

Biography

Rowlandson was born in Old Jewry, in the City of London. He was baptised on 23 July 1757 at St Mary Colechurch, London to William and Mary Rowlandson. His father, William, had been a weaver, but had moved into trading supplies for the textile industry and after overextending himself was declared bankrupt in 1759. Life became difficult for him in London and, in late 1759, he moved his family to Richmond, North Yorkshire. Thomas's uncle James died in 1764, and his widow Jane probably provided both the funds and accommodation which allowed Thomas to attend school in London. [2] [1]

Old Jewry street in the City of London

Old Jewry is a one-way street in the City of London, the historic and financial centre of London. It is located within Coleman Street ward and links Poultry to Gresham Street.

City of London City and county in United Kingdom

The City of London is a city and local government district that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the agglomeration has since grown far beyond the City's borders. The City is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of London, though it remains a notable part of central London. Administratively, it forms one of the 33 local authority districts of Greater London; however, the City of London is not a London borough, a status reserved for the other 32 districts. It is also a separate county of England, being an enclave surrounded by Greater London. It is the smallest county in the United Kingdom.

St Mary Colechurch Church in London

St Mary Colechurch was a parish church in the City of London destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and not rebuilt.

Rowlandson was educated at the school of Dr Barvis in Soho Square, then "an academy of some celebrity," where one of his classmates was Richard Burke, son of the politician Edmund Burke. As a schoolboy, Rowlandson "drew humourous characters of his master and many of his scholars before he was ten years old," covering the margins of his schoolbooks with his artwork. [3]

Soho Square square in Soho, London, England

Soho Square is a garden square in Soho, London owned until at least 1966 by the Portland family but which has since 1954 been de facto a public park leased by the Soho Square Garden Committee to Westminster City Council. It was originally called King Square after Charles II. Its statue of Charles II has stood since the square's 1681 founding except between 1875 and 1938; it is today well-weathered. By the time of the drawing of a keynote map of London in 1746 the newer name for the square had gained sway. During the summer, Soho Square hosts open-air free concerts.

Edmund Burke 18th-century Anglo-Irish statesman and political theorist

Edmund Burke was an Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher. Born in Dublin, Burke served as a member of parliament (MP) between 1766 and 1794 in the House of Commons with the Whig Party after moving to London in 1750.

In 1765 or 1766 he started at the Soho Academy. [2] There is no documentary evidence that Rowlandson took drawing classes at the mainly business-oriented school, but it seems likely, as on leaving school in 1772, he became a student at the Royal Academy. [4] According to his obituary of 22 April 1827 in The Gentleman's Magazine, Rowlandson was sent to Paris at the age of 16 (1772), and spent two years studying in a "drawing academy." [3] there. In Paris he studied drawing "the human figure" and continued developing his youthful skill in caricature. [3] It was on his return to London that he took classes at the Royal Academy, then based at Somerset House. [3]

Caricature rendered image showing the features of its subject in a simplified or exaggerated way through sketching, pencil strokes, or through other artistic drawings

A caricature is a rendered image showing the features of its subject in a simplified or exaggerated way through sketching, pencil strokes, or through other artistic drawings.

Somerset House building on the Strand, London

Somerset House is a large Neoclassical building situated on the south side of the Strand in central London, overlooking the River Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge. The Georgian quadrangle, which was built on the site of a Tudor palace belonging to the Duke of Somerset, was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1776. It was further extended with Victorian outer wings to the east and west in 1831 and 1856 respectively. Somerset House stood directly on the River Thames until the Victoria Embankment was built in the late 1860s.

Rowlandson spent six years studying at the Royal Academy, but about a third of this time was spent in Paris where he may have studied under Jean-Baptiste Pigalle. [5] He later made frequent tours to the Continent, enriching his portfolios with numerous sketches of life and character. In 1775 he exhibited a drawing of Dalilah Payeth Sampson a Visit while in Prison at Gaza at the Royal Academy and two years later received a silver medal for a bas-relief figure. He was spoken of as a promising student. On the death of his aunt, he inherited £7,000 with which he plunged into the dissipations of the town and was known to sit at the gaming-table for 36 hours at a stretch.

Jean-Baptiste Pigalle French sculptor

Jean-Baptiste Pigalle was a French sculptor.

Career portfolios are used to plan, organize and document education, work samples and skills. People use career portfolios to apply for jobs, apply to college or training programs. They are more in-depth than a resume, which is used to summarize the above in one or two pages. Career portfolios serve as proof of one's skills, abilities, and potential in the future. Career portfolios are becoming common in high schools, college, and workforce development.

Discomforts of an Epicure, a self-portrait from 1787, showed that he could aim his caricatures at himself Rowlandson-Epicure.jpg
Discomforts of an Epicure, a self-portrait from 1787, showed that he could aim his caricatures at himself

In time poverty overtook him; and the friendship and examples of James Gillray and Henry William Bunbury seem to have suggested caricature as a means of earning a living. His drawing of Vauxhall, shown in the Royal Academy exhibition of 1784, had been engraved by Pollard, and the print was a success. Rowlandson was largely employed by Rudolph Ackermann, the art publisher, who in 1809—issued in his Poetical MagazineThe Schoolmaster's Tour—a series of plates with illustrative verses by Dr. William Combe. They were the most popular of the artist's works. Again engraved by Rowlandson himself in 1812, and issued under the title of the Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, they had attained a fifth edition by 1813, and were followed in 1820 by Dr Syntax in Search of Consolation, and in 1821 by the Third Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of a Wife. He also produced a body of erotic prints and woodcuts. [6]

Vauxhall District of London

Vauxhall is a district of Central London, England. Vauxhall was part of Surrey until 1889 when the County of London was created.

Rudolph Ackermann German-born British publisher

Rudolph Ackermann was an Anglo-German bookseller, inventor, lithographer, publisher and businessman.

William Combe British writer and adventurer

William Combe was a British miscellaneous writer. His early life was that of an adventurer, his later was passed chiefly within the "rules" of the King's Bench Prison. He is chiefly remembered as the author of The Three Tours of Doctor Syntax, a comic poem, illustrated by artist Thomas Rowlandson's color plates, that satirised William Gilpin. Combe also wrote a series of imaginary letters, supposed to have been written by the second, or "wicked" Lord Lyttelton. Of a similar kind were his letters between Swift and "Stella". He also wrote the letterpress for various illustrated books, and was a general hack.

The same collaboration of designer, author and publisher appeared in the English Dance of Death, issued in 1814–16 and in the Dance of Life, 1817. Rowlandson also illustrated Smollett, Goldsmith and Sterne, and his designs will be found in The Spirit of the Public Journals (1825), The English Spy (1825), and The Humorist (1831).

Vauxhall Gardens (1785). The two women in the centre are Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and her sister Lady Duncannon. The man seated at the table on the left is Samuel Johnson, with James Boswell to his left and Oliver Goldsmith to his right. To the right the actress and author Mary Darby Robinson stands next to the Prince of Wales, later George IV Thomas Rowlandson - Vaux-Hall - Dr. Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Mary Robinson, et al.jpg
Vauxhall Gardens (1785). The two women in the centre are Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and her sister Lady Duncannon. The man seated at the table on the left is Samuel Johnson, with James Boswell to his left and Oliver Goldsmith to his right. To the right the actress and author Mary Darby Robinson stands next to the Prince of Wales, later George IV

Rowlandson's designs were usually done in outline with the reed-pen, and delicately washed with colour. They were then etched by the artist on the copper, and afterwards aquatinted—usually by a professional engraver, the impressions being finally coloured by hand. As a designer he was characterised by his facility and ease of draughtsmanship. He dealt less frequently with politics than his fierce contemporary, Gillray, but commonly touching, in a rather gentle spirit, the various aspects and incidents of social life. His most artistic work is to be found among the more careful drawings of his earlier period; but even among the exaggerated caricature of his later time we find hints that this master of the humorous might have attained to the beautiful had he so willed.

His work included a personification of the United Kingdom named John Bull who was developed from about 1790 in conjunction with other British satirical artists such as Gillray and George Cruikshank. He also produced many works depicting the characters involved in election campaigns and race meetings. However, his satirical works of London's street life such as the "pleasure gardens at Vauxhall, jostling with soldiers, students, tarts and society beauties," which exhibit acute social observation and commentary are amongst his finest. [7]

Rowlandson's caricatures include those on the medical profession which developed through his friendship with John Wolcot around 1778. He also earned money illustrating books of physicians and quacks. [8] Later in life, he also produced caricatures on medical themes. [9]

His patron and friend Matthew Michell collected hundreds of his paintings which Michell displayed at his country residence, Grove House in Enfield, Middlesex. After Michell's death his nephew, Sir Henry Onslow, sold the contents of Grove House at an eight-day sale in November 1818. One of the best-known of Rowlandson's paintings is "Hengar House the seat of Matthw Mitchell [sic] Esqr., Cornwall" (1812) which was sold at the Sir Richard Onslow sale, Sotheby's, 15 July 1959. Another of Rowlandson's paintings is "Glorious Defeat of the Dutch Navy Octr 10 1797, by Admirals Lord Duncan and Sir Richard Onslow, with a View Drawn on the Spot of the Six Dutch Line of Battle Ships Captured and Brought into Yarmouth" (1797). Rowlandson also painted early scenes of Brighton where Michell's sister, Lady Anne Onslow, lived after the death of her husband Sir Richard Onslow, 1st Baronet. Rowlandson's painting "Mr Michell's Picture Gallery at Grove House, Enfild" was sold by Sotheby's, London, on 4 July 2002.

Rowlandson died at his lodgings at 1 James Street, Adelphi, London, after a prolonged illness, on 21 April 1827. He was buried at St Paul's, Covent Garden on 28 April 1827 aged 70 years. Some authors have suggested that his house keeper Betsy Winter who inherited his belongings was his mistress but this has been rejected by others. [10]

Works

Notes

  1. 1 2 "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/24221.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. 1 2 Payne and Payne. pp.8–14
  3. 1 2 3 4 Rowlandson obituary in Sylvanus Urban, The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 97, Part 1, Jan–June 1827 (London: J B Nichols, 1827), page 564
  4. Payne and Payne. p.15
  5. Payne and Payne. p.26
  6. Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Thomas-Rowlandson
  7. Cumming, L., "High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson: Review," The Guardian, 29 December 2013, <Online: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/dec/29/high-spirits-thomas-rowlandson-review>
  8. Butterfield, William C. (2 April 1973). "The Medical Caricatures of Thomas Rowlandson". JAMA. 224 (1): 113–117. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220140081016. ISSN   0098-7484.
  9. Vincent, L M (2005). "The Anatomist by Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827): The Play's the Thing". Medical History. 49 (2): 213–218. doi:10.1017/s0025727300008589. ISSN   0025-7273. PMC   1088220 . PMID   15895757.
  10. Sherry, James (1978). "Distance and Humor; The Art of Thomas Rowlandson". Eighteenth-Century Studies. 11 (4): 457–472. doi:10.2307/2737966. ISSN   0013-2586. JSTOR   2737966.

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