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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Post Office, 1809, Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) after Augustus Charles Pugin (1762-1832), aquatint, hand-coloured.
Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) studied sculpture and drawing at the Royal Academy Schools in London and for a period in Paris, and later devoted himself to cartoons (3).
While European artists like Jacques-Louis David were striving to create a high-minded new classicism 200 years ago, in Britain the likes of Thomas Rowlandson, James Gillray and Hogarth were using their talents to satirize and caricature the politicians of the day.
Between 1812 and 1814 more than 200 satirical prints targeting the French emperor and his circle appeared in Moscow and St Petersburg, some of which were reprinted in London and influenced the work of George Cruikshank, Thomas Rowlandson and others.
Even Thomas Rowlandson's Breaking up of the Blue Stocking Club (1815) was scarcely harsher than satirists' treatments of parliamentarians at the time.
Rosenthal intersperses her subtly suggestive close readings of works by Reynolds, Thomas Rowlandson and Nathaniel Hone with contemporary popular verse.
He shows us the eighteenth century satire and English realism of William Hogarth and the watercolourist, Paul Sandby; and he contrasts the coarse burlesques of Thomas Rowlandson with the return to sentimentalism in the popular prints of Francis Wheatley.
Ninette de Valois still had hankerings for a chauvinistic British tradition, with ballets based on the prints of William Hogarth and Thomas Rowlandson, and even invited Leonide Massine to create, with dire results, a Scottish bal]et, Donald of the Burthens.
Thomas Rowlandson's A Little Tighter shows a slender man desperately struggling to lace up the stays of a porcine female.
A PEEP behind the Scenes, the life and art of Thomas Rowlandson. Rugby Fine Arts lecture by Frances Hughes on May 24 at 8pm at the Benn Hall, Newbold Road.
Set to music by William Boyce (arranged by Constant Lambert) and with superb sets by Roger Furse (after Thomas Rowlandson), it is a charming - and very funny - little tale of the plight of dancers in two rival theatres in the 18th century.
Further commingling takes place between these and portions of Johnson's letters to the Thrales (written during the journey), short extracts from Boswell's manuscript journal, caricatures by Thomas Rowlandson, and arresting portraits by Allan Ramsay and others.