Thomas Rowlandson represented the panorama of late 18th and early 19th Century life with almost unparalleled fluency, and so raised comic art to a new level. The exhibition shows over 75 original works by this master draughtsman in the context of fine drawings and watercolours by his contemporaries. From idyllic pastoral scenes to grotesque caricatures, Rowlandson's talent for depicting the intricacies of human nature and the world around him is unsurpassed, and the breadth of his skill as social commentator is artfully displayed in this comprehensive show.

46 of the works in this show are from the collection of John Barton Townsend (1865-1928). Townsend was a prominent collector of illustrated books and caricatures from eighteenth and nineteenth-century Britain. His notable and extensive collection included drawings by Henry Alken, the three Cruikshanks (Isaac, George and Robert) as well as a great number of original works by Thomas Rowlandson. The collection was sold in a public auction at the American Art Galleries, New York, from 4 to 6 February 1919.

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