Thomas Rowlandson

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Rowlandson, Thomas

(rō`ləndsən), 1756–1827, English caricaturist, b. London. He studied at the Royal Academy and in Paris, but his passion for gambling prevented him from producing much until c.1782, when he was obliged to earn a living. As a humorous caricaturist and critical commentator of the social scene, Rowlandson quickly gained celebrity. His drawing Vauxhall Gardens (1784) was a great success, as was his series of drawings The Comforts of Bath that was reproduced in 1789. This was followed by the famous Tour of Dr. Syntax (series in 3 vol., 1812–21), Dance of Death (1814–16), and Dance of Life (1822)—all with text by William Combe. Rowlandson also illustrated Smollett, Goldsmith, Sterne, and Swift. Most of his drawings were first done in ink with a reed pen and given a delicate wash of color. The fluidity of his line is likened to the French rococorococo
, style in architecture, especially in interiors and the decorative arts, which originated in France and was widely used in Europe in the 18th cent. The term may be derived from the French words rocaille and coquille
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, but the spirited humor of his work, sometimes almost coarse, is in the English style. His work is represented in the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum.


See studies by R. Paulson (1972) and J. Hayes (1972).

Rowlandson, Thomas


Born July 4, 1756, in London; died there Apr. 22, 1827. English artist and caricaturist.

Rowlandson was trained at the Royal Academy in London and in a drawing school in Paris, where from 1772 to 1775 he also attended the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. A master of mass scenes, he produced engravings and pen-and-ink drawings with watercolor washes. His drawings, permeated with the spirited, biting humor typical of the caricature, ridiculed the mores of the gentry and the bourgeoisie (the series The Microcosm Of London, 1808). Rowlandson also illustrated the works of Goldsmith, Smollett, and Sterne.


Nekrasova, E. Ocherki po istorii angliiskoi karikatury kontsa XVIII i nachala XIX vekov. Leningrad, 1935.
Paulson, R. Rowlandson: A New Interpretation. London, 1972.