Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England

Main Gallery

rowlandThomas Rowlandson, Comedy in the Country, Tragedy in London, 1807, etching with watercolor. Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, 807.

One of the most popular satirists of his time, English artist Thomas Rowlandson (1757–1827) applied his masterful drawing skills and keen sense of humor to colorful, detailed, and sometimes bawdy depictions of everyday life in and around London during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The 71 drawings, watercolors, prints, and books in Pleasures and Pursuits offer an entryway into the social and political life of Georgian England, a period that also produced such literary figures as Jane Austen and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Rowlandson excelled at capturing the follies and foibles on display in the public and private gathering spaces and events of his native city during a time of remarkable population growth and social change, as members of differing classes mixed and mingled in a blossoming array of leisure activities.

Curated by Patricia Phagan, the Philip and Lynn Straus Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, the exhibition is the first on Rowlandson in the U.S. in twenty years and is accompanied by a catalogue with contributions by Phagan, Vic Gatrell of Cambridge University, and Amelia Rauser of Franklin and Marshall College.

The works in the exhibition are drawn from the collections of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale Center for British Art, Lewis Walpole Library, and Vassar College Libraries, Archives and Special Collections.

Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England was organized by the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, with support from the Evelyn Metzger Exhibition Fund, and Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund. Support for its exhibition at the Block Museum and related programming is provided by the Alumnae of Northwestern University, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Evanston Arts Council, Myers Foundations, and Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.