Thomas Rowlandson

Watercolour painter, illustrator and social carcicaturist.

He was born in London in 1756, the son of a bankrupt merchant and was educated at Dr. Barrow's School and at the RA Schools, which he entered in 1772.

He made visits to Paris in 1774 and 1777 to visit relatives and the rococo delicacy of his pen and wash drawings probably owes something to this French connection.

Rowlandson hereafter made extensive journeys on the Continent to France, Italy, Germany and Holland and in Great Britain, filling notebooks with a mixture of grotesque humanity and sylvan ideal landscapes. He often travelled with other caricaturists, notably, J. Wigstead and J. Nixon. His work is always tinted pen drawings rather than full-scale watercolour, but he changed his humorous style to do drawings after the Old Masters and figures reminiscent of Thomas Gainesborough.

He was one of the major caricaturists to become an extensive book illustrator, particularly in his work for Ackermann from 1798, in The Tours of Dr. Syntax, and The Microcosm of London in 1808.

In later life, Rowlandson's quality of work tailed off, a not surprising feature of someone who was a gambler, dissolute and naturally lazy. The later drawings often show a sloppiness and lack of interest in the subject and as countless versions of one subject exist this is not wholly surprising.

He died in London in 1827.

(from The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists, 1800-1914 by Simon Houfe)

Rowlandson Portrait

Thomas Rowlandson
(1756-1827)
Pencil sketch by George Henry Harlow, 1814

 

The Dance of Life,
A Poem by the author of "Doctor Syntax;"
Illustrated with Coloured Engravings
by Thomas Rowlandson

Published by R. Ackermann, Repository of Arts
101 Strand
London, 1817

Original hand-coloured aquatint etchings over 200 years old!

The sheet size is approximately 5.75 x 9.375 inches

The Dance of Life Rowlandson Frontispiece

The Dance of Life

[Frontispiece 1]

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The Dance of Life, A Poem

[Frontispiece 2]

The Dance of Life, A Poem

[Frontispiece 2]

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The Dance of LIFE, begins, with all its Charms, In the fond Dandling of the Nurse's arms

The Dance of LIFE, begins, with all its Charms,
In the fond Dandling of the Nurse's arms

[Ref #1]

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The tender Nurse's care is now resign'd
To the first grave Instructor of the mind

The tender Nurse's care is now resign'd
To the first grave Instructor of the mind

[Ref #2]

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The stern preceptor, with his threatning Nod,
Calls in the wise Correction of the Rod

The stern preceptor, with his threatning Nod,
Calls in the wise Correction of the Rod

[Ref #3]

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Wine makes the Head to ach [sic], but will the Art
Of the grave, solemn Lecture reach the Heart

Wine makes the Head to ach [sic], but will the Art
Of the grave, solemn Lecture reach the Heart

[Ref #4]

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To part with thee, my Boyt, how great the pain!
How great the joy, to see thee once again!

To part with thee, my Boy, how great the pain!
How great the joy, to see thee once again!

[Ref #5]

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'Tis hop'd, 'midst foreign scenes, some power he'll find
To mend his manners and improve his mind

'Tis hop'd, 'midst foreign scenes, some power he'll find
To mend his manners and improve his mind

[Ref #6]

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He pays his lively court, as 'tis the Ton,
To the fat Princess of the mille Colonnes

He pays his lively court, as 'tis the Ton,
To the fat Princess of the mille Colonnes

[Ref #7]

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He pays his lively court, as 'tis the Ton,
To the fat Princess of the mille Colonnes

The widow'd Mother hastens forth to meet
Her Son, Sir Henry to his ancient Seat

[Ref #8]

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The hounds the flying Stag pursue:
But Dian does the Hunting rue

The hounds the flying Stag pursue:
But Dian does the Hunting rue

[Ref #9]

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As the first step in folly's wanton waste,
He pulls his mansion down, to shew his taste

As the first step in folly's wanton waste,
He pulls his mansion down, to shew his taste

[Ref #10]

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As the first step in folly's wanton waste,
He pulls his mansion down, to shew his taste

Of Four in hand he join the vulgar rage,
Wields the long Whip, and overturns a Stage

[Ref #11]

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As the first step in folly's wanton waste,
He pulls his mansion down, to shew his taste

The Mask, that scene of wanton Folly
May convert Mirth to Melancholy

[Ref #12]

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As the first step in folly's wanton waste,
He pulls his mansion down, to shew his taste

By Gamblers link'd in Folly's Noose,
Play ill or well, he's sure to loose

[Ref #13]

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The Victim of the Betting Post,
His Bets, as soon as made, are lost

The Victim of the Betting Post,
His Bets, as soon as made, are lost

[Ref #14]

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For such a mild and placid dear,
He pays two thousand pounds a year

For such a mild and placid dear,
He pays two thousand pounds a year

[Ref #15]

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For my own good and Yours' I'm bent,
My worthy Friends, tow'rds Parliament

For my own good and Yours' I'm bent,
My worthy Friends, tow'rds Parliament

[Ref #16]

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In his oppress'd and adverse hour,
Virtue resumes its former power

In his oppress'd and adverse hour,
Virtue resumes its former power

[Ref #17]

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The wild exuberance of Joy
May Reason's sober power destroy

The wild exuberance of Joy
May Reason's sober power destroy

[Ref #18]

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Sweet is the voice whose powers can move,
And call the vagrant heart to Love

Sweet is the voice whose powers can move,
And call the vagrant heart to Love

[Ref #19]

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Blest Hymen, whose propitious hour
Restores to virtue all its power

Blest Hymen, whose propitious hour
Restores to virtue all its power

[Ref #20]

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Rural Sports are better far
Than all his former pleasures were

Rural Sports are better far
Than all his former pleasures were

[Ref #21]

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To sooth the rigour of the Laws,
Let Beauty plead the Culprit's cause

To sooth the rigour of the Laws,
Let Beauty plead the Culprit's cause

[Ref #22]

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By piety's due rites 'tis given
To hold communion with Heaven

By piety's due rites 'tis given
To hold communion with Heaven

[Ref #23]

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Here virtue views with smiling pride,
the Blessings of her Fire-side

Here virtue views with smiling pride,
the Blessings of her Fire-side

[Ref #24]

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See Also Rowlandson Dr. Syntax prints
Antique Humor and Satire prints home