- URN: 22.29
Artist Name : ROWLANDSON, Thomas
- Artwork Name:
Dr Syntax: Meditating On The Tomb Stones
- Printing Process:
- Support Surface:
- Overall Size (w x h, cms): 24.5 x 14.5 cms
- Image Size (w x h, cms): 19 x 12.5 cms
- Price: £15.00
This price includes DELIVERY, and VAT if applicable.
- Print Category:
Cartoons - Illustrations And Portraiture
- Colour: Colour
- Colour Application: Original Hand Colour
- Condition of Artwork: Good - minor age toning, faint beginnings of foxing, few small marks.
- Publisher: Published by Rudolph Ackermann, 1st May 1812, at R. Ackermann's Repository of Arts 101. Strand, London.
- Publication Magazine: The Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, A Poem. (1818 edition)
- Edition Series Volume: Plate 10.
- Notes: An original and antique aquatint etching by Thomas Rowlandson, created in c.1812. From the series of poems and comic versus about 'Dr Syntax' which were written by William Combes and released in three separate publications, or tours: "The Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque. A Poem" (1812); "The Second Tour in Search of Consolation" (1820) and "Third Tour in Search of a Wife" (1821).
The verses and poems were written by William Combes and his original sketches were taken on and etched by Thomas Rowlandson, who illustrated all three tours. Rowlandson's designs were usually done in outline with the reed-pen, and delicately washed with colour. They were then etched by the artist on a copper plate, and then aquatinted—usually by a professional engraver, the impressions being finally coloured by hand.
This artwork is entitled 'Dr Syntax: Meditating on the Tomb Stones', and is Plate 10 from "The Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque. A Poem", the first tour.
Published first in the 'Poetical Magazine' and later by Rudolph Ackermann again on 1st May 1812, at R. Ackermann's Repository of Arts 101. Strand, London.
- Further Information: Dr Syntax was a satirical character created by William Combe, a British writer working in the late 18th and early 19th century. The character was conceived as a cruel but clever jibe at William Gilpin; an English artist and Anglican cleric best known as one of the originators of the idea of ‘the picturesque’.
The following gives a brief history of The Dr Syntax Series. The key players are:
William Combe – who produced the original sketches and wrote the Poems of ‘Dr Syntax’.
Thomas Rowlandson – who drew and etched the final designs for ‘Dr Syntax’.
‘Dr Syntax’ – the subject of this series was a satirical character based on, directed at and intended to mock, the activities of William Gilpin.
(Sawrey Gilpin, to avoid any confusion, was the brother of William Gilpin, and an artist in his own right.)
William Sawrey Gilpin – the son of Sawrey Gilpin and nephew of William Gilpin. William Sawrey was the illustrator of his Uncle William Gilpin’s books and publications discussing ‘the picturesque’; the pursuit of which was the consuming endeavour of Dr Syntax in his first Tour.
William Gilpin and ‘the Picturesque’:
William Gilpin was an English artist, author, schoolmaster and Anglican cleric, best known for devising and theorising the idea of ‘the picturesque’. In 1768 Gilpin had published his popular ‘Essay on Prints’ where he defined the picturesque as '"that kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture" and began to expound his "principles of picturesque beauty", based largely on his knowledge of landscape painting. During the school holidays William Gilpin travelled extensively and applied his theories and principals of ‘the picturesque’ to the landscapes he saw, recording his thoughts and sketches in his notebooks. These journals from his tours in search of ‘the picturesque’ were circulated in manuscripts to friends, such as the poet William Mason, and a wider circle including Thomas Gray, Horace Walpole and King George III. Based on his travels in the summer of 1770 Gilpin published “Observations on the River Wye and several parts of South Wales, etc.” in 1782, again primarily relating to 'Picturesque Beauty'. This was illustrated with plates based on Gilpin's sketches, etched by his nephew William Sawrey Gilpin using the new aquatint process. There followed “Observations on the Lake District and the West of England” and, after his move to Boldre in Hampshire, he also wrote “Remarks on Forest Scenery, and other woodland Views ...” (London 1791). Although remembered for his conceptualisation of ‘the picturesque’, William Gilpin also lives on as the model for the satirist William Combe's devilishly mocking Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque (1809), brilliantly illustrated by Thomas Rowlandson.
The Tours of Dr Syntax, Poems and Verses by William Combe and, etchings and aquatinting by Thomas Rowlandson:
William Combe was a British writer and poet working in the late 18th and early 19th century. He is best known for writing The Three Tours of Doctor Syntax, a series of verses and comic poems following Dr Syntax; a character of Combe's own creation intended to unsubtly satirise the writer William Gilpin, who toured Britain to describe his theory of 'the picturesque'. The story and legacy of the Syntax series began whilst Combe was writing for Rudolph Ackermann's 'Poetical Magazine' between 1809 and 1811, and was to come to full life and fruition through a partnership with a young artist and etcher, Rowlandson.
At this time, Thomas Rowlandson (1756 - 1827) an English artist, was also largely under the employment of Ackermann. Rowlandson had begun working on caricatures following the example of friends James Gillray and Henry William Bunbury, who had suggested caricature as a means of earning a living during tough times of poverty. In 1809 Ackermann, the art publisher, issued in his Poetical Magazine 'The Schoolmaster's Tour'—a short series of plates with illustrative verses written by Dr. William Combe and depicted by Rowlandson's etchings. They were the most popular of the artist's works to date, and the beginning of a successful marriage between Combe's witty verses and vision and Rowlandson's humorous, artistic exaggeration and skilled draughtsmanship.
Shortly after this first series of poems, the full Tour was published separately in 1812. Again engraved by Rowlandson himself and issued under the title of the "The Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, a Poem", they had attained a fifth edition by 1813, and were followed in 1820 by "The Second Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of Consolation, a Poem", and in 1821 by "The Third Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of a Wife, a Poem".
The process of aquatint was now relatively well established. William Sawrey Gilpin, nephew to William Gilpin, had been one of the first to use the process commercially when he was illustrating his uncle's notes on 'the picturesque' in around 1782 – so the use of aquatint was apposite for Rowlandson in satirising Gilpin's work. Rowlandson's designs were usually done in outline with a reed-pen, and delicately washed with colour. They were then etched by the artist on a copper plate, and then aquatinted—usually by a professional engraver, the impressions finally being coloured by hand.
As a designer, Thomas Rowlandson was characterised by his facility and ease of draughtsmanship. He dealt less frequently with politics than his fierce contemporary, Gillray, but commonly touched on the various aspects and incidents of social life with a gentle and light-hearted spirit. His most artistic work is to be found among the more careful drawings of his earlier period; but even among the exaggerated caricature of his later time we find hints that this master of the humorous might have attained to the beautiful had he so willed. His artwork made a wonderful pairing with William Combe's poems which were descriptive and moralizing verses of a somewhat doggerel type; Dr Syntax (and essentially William Gilpin) was depicted as a poor curate setting off on his straggly mare, Grizzle, in a quest for picturesque scenery, often (and usually to his discomfort) oblivious to the realities of the world around him.
The Dr Syntax series proved exceedingly popular and an immense success, also in part due to the accomplished illustrations by Rowlandson which brought the fictional character to life. It was to be that both Rowlandson and Combe would become inseparably linked with the character of Dr Syntax, and the humorous joy he and his poems have brought to art lovers and collectors all over the world and to this day. We are pleased to have a good selection of original illustrations from all three of the Tours of Dr Syntax, which we offer here on The Midhurst Gallery's website at competitive prices.