San Francisco

Thomas Rowlandson

R. E. Lewis Gallery

Selected prints by one of the greatest British caricature-commentators. Rowlandson (1756–1827) is noted for a prolific production of prints and drawings lampooning the various abuses of his time, and his many humorous comments on social life. His Vauxhall Gardens, an elaborate composition showing numerous celebrities strolling there, which attracted special attention when exhibited at the Academy in 1784, is one of the larger prints included in the Lewis show and is still of more than passing interest. With that print he was already developing those certain recognizable characters which became more distorted as time went on and finally emerged as constant factors in his works, such as ladies suffering from “Rowlandsonitis” (baring of some part of the anatomy), and porcine persons eating or sleeping. Yet even in his most acid depictions there is a delicacy of line and watercolor wash that sets his work quite apart from mere cartooning.

E. M. Polley