Alphabet Post: R is for Thomas Rowlandson

Stolen Kisses by Thomas Rowlandson

Stolen Kisses by Thomas Rowlandson

The turn of the 19th century was quite a bit wilder and an extremely bawdy period as we approach the Regency period.

The 18th century had been time of great eroticism and overt sexuality.  The book Fanny Hill had been published in 1732, one of the leading erotic novels of the day. Jack Harris (pen name of Samuel Derrick) published Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies (prostitutes) that was a best seller for years.

And Thomas Rowlandson, a popular engraver and caricaturist in Georgian London, created a series of highly erotic engravings at the end of the century, reportedly for the Prince Regent.

Thomas_Rowlandson_(8)Rowlandson, an orphan raised by his aunt, studied art in Paris and began to exhibit his work in London in the mid-1770s. He etched and printed several series his works, such as Dr. Syntax’s Tour and The Microcosm of London for which he gained much fame.  He illustrated

Dr. Syntax with Kitty Cowslip

Dr. Syntax with Kitty Cowslip

prominent authors’ works of the period such as Smollett, Goldsmith, Sterne, and Swift.  He worked primarily in pen and ink, with a watercolor wash, the delicate nature of his work contrasting sharply with the coarseness of his subjects.

Goodbye by Thomas Rowlandson

Goodbye by Thomas Rowlandson

One of his most popular series depicted men and women in the most licentious poses imaginable.  These were the ones done for the prince and that now are on  display in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. (These prints are almost too bawdy for me to post!) But I made a couple of exceptions to give you a feel for Rowlandson’s works. these prints were so popular the original engraved plates were worn completely out with the printing of them.

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6 Responses to Alphabet Post: R is for Thomas Rowlandson

  1. Daisy Banks says:

    This is the tail end of the Gerogian period, no pun intended, and its my favourite bit of history. Dramatic, exciting, bawdy beyond belief and life was lived to excess by all who could afford it. Thanks for posting Rowland’s images, they made me smile.


  2. melissakeir says:

    It is funny how no matter what is created, art or technology, it often turns into a sexual nature. Think about how cable became the place to watch porn at home and how the internet allowed us to surf the net for sex sites… I’m glad to hear that even the Queen and Albert enjoyed their bawdy side!


  3. Good heavens, Rowlandson’s art is new to me, and I sure bet his engravings were popular. Thank you so much for the history. The body shapes look a lot more realistic than we see in media today. What an interesting time period! It’s fascinating to see the ebb and flow of overt sexuality over the centuries and decades.


  4. Daryl Devore says:

    Another post that’s fun and entertaining post with a touch of bawdy.


  5. Quite bawdy! I’ve seen some of his work, but not these particular ones. What has always struck me, is not only the quality of the drawings, but the plumpness of the women. Times were sure different. I would imagine men of that day would find current-era women to be too thin.


  6. lizaoconnor says:

    Even the Queen was said to enjoy them, and bought some as gifts for Albert, so this wasn’t a secret enjoyment that he kept from his wife. Victoria was a woman of many, often conflicting, sides.


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