Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin, Christie’s Auction Room (detail), from the book The Microcosm of London, 1808. Etching and aquatint with watercolor. FAMSF, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts

The Book Illustrations of Thomas Rowlandson

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This focused exhibition explores illustrations by Thomas Rowlandson (English, 1756 – 1827), a caricaturist, watercolourist, draughtsman and engraver. Rowlandson is best remembered for his caricatures, but was highly regarded as an illustrator during his lifetime. The exhibition highlights his skill and achievements in this area, and includes works that represent some of the strongest examples of his craft.

The late Georgian period (ca.1780 – 1820) saw some of the finest luxury color-plate books ever produced in England, and Rowlandson’s contribution to the field was significant. Among his most memorable creations was the wildly popular character known as Doctor Syntax, which made him a household name. Rowlandson’s ability to extract the comic from the everyday and the ridiculous from the pretentious, without excessive moralizing, has long endeared him to audiences.

The exhibition draws from the collection of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, which holds a comprehensive selection of the books illustrated by Rowlandson from the 1780s to the 1820s, as well as prints and drawings associated with these works.

Currently on view