Museums Home BMAGiC Home Search Browse BMAGiC Help About BMAGiC Contact Us

Biography for Thomas Rowlandson

Born:1756 - London, England


Rowlandson is arguably the greatest comic draughtsman in the history of English art. He was the son of a wool and silk merchant who was declared bankrupt in 1759. In 1772 he became a student at the Royal Academy Schools where he was soon very nearly expelled for shooting a pea at a female life model causing her to jump out of position in fright. Although he travelled to France and Italy in the 1780s he was always at heart a Londoner, and he lived in the city for the rest of his life. He published a large number of political and social satirical prints (usually hand-coloured), which were available either for purchase or for rent, at the numerous print-shops, which flourished in London at the time. It was a period of remarkable freedom for artists to poke merciless fun at politicians, the church and even royalty, and Rowlandson took full advantage of the situation. He was essentially a professional graphic artist who produced only watercolours and prints and seems never to have painted in oils. Little is known of his life and only two letters from his hand appear to have survived. His unique cursive style of drawing is almost impossible to fake, although numerous so- called 'Rowlandsons' appear regularly on the market, often bearing spurious signatures.

My Bookmarks

You currently have no objects bookmarked.
You can bookmark objects to help you find them again easily when using this computer.