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High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson


A superb exhibition is currently showing at the Queen’s Gallery in London. It is curated by Kate Heard, Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Royal Collection and displays a great selection of the Rowlandson prints and drawings from the Windsor Castle collection. The catalogue is fantastic too with huge full-page illustrations with lots of colour and close-up detail. It’s published by the Royal Collection Trust and is selling for a very reasonable £20 or so. What I liked most of all though, was being able to get really up close to the French and English Reviews and have a good look at that drawing technique. Another wow factor: the four-leaf folding screen pasted with satirical prints that glows in the middle of the gallery. I’ve never seen anything like it – only ever heard about these things. What I learnt was that the prints were cut-up; figures were cut-out and the designs re-arranged to create a mad kaleidoscope of satirical designs. I had always imagined that the prints were pasted on as sheets – not like this! The screen was probably made in London about 1806-7 and was bought to furnish Sandringham House. Amazing! What else was good? The selection – not too much and stunning for their perfect condition – the colours fine and clear whether prints or drawings.




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Art historian of eighteenth century British art writing a book about depictions of the French in English graphic satire. Interested in art, satire, ethnicity and identity

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