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Scenes of everyday life

Pregnant woman talks to a smiling man

The Unwelcome Visitor, by Rowlandson ©

Much of Rowlandson’s work is concerned with the comedy of daily life. Prints and drawings poking fun at fashionable figures, the theatre and lovers had a longer shelf life than political satires, as they were not tied to current affairs. In his social comedies, Rowlandson frequently reused jokes from earlier works and sometimes reinterpreted the work of others. He often worked with his friend George Moutard Woodward (1760?– 1809), an amateur satirist who relied on printmakers such as Rowlandson to etch his drawings.

Many of Rowlandson’s social satires were published by the entrepreneur Thomas Tegg, who made a fortune by running a ‘Caricature Warehouse’ selling books and prints at low prices. Tegg commissioned large numbers of cheap, brightly coloured satirical prints which buyers could collect and bind together as the Caricature Magazine, for which Tegg published a series of lively title pages.

Satirical prints were usually purchased from printsellers’ shops. Some printsellers, such as Hannah Humphrey and William Holland, specialised in satirical prints. Many of these shops were near the royal residence of St James’s Palace where they were easily accessible to the courtiers who purchased such satires. Those who couldn’t afford to buy prints could admire the changing printsellers’ displays from the street. Arranged in rows in the panes of the printshop windows, these regularly changed to advertise the latest publications, and drew large crowds.

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

Sunday Morning

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

Chaos is Come Again !

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

Anything will do for an Officer

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

John Bull at the Italian Opera.

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

Haymakers at Rest, or, Ease and Elegance

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

Theatrical Leap Frog.

Attributed to Henry Wigstead (c. 1745-1800)

Bookseller and Author

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

Overset

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

Sketches at an Oratorio!

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

A Peep at the New Installation Uniform.

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

A runaway carriage

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

First and Second Floor Lodgers.

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

Dutch Merchants sketched at Amsterdam.

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

An Epicure.