By close visual and verbal commentary with the focus on Peter Plumb’s Diary (1810), my essay takes issue with Ronald Paulson’s long established belief that Thomas Rowlandson’s graphic satires never tell “more than the simplest anecdote that is least in need of commentary.” A contextual examination of this particular print shows that it is replete with historical and linguistic echoes, which reveal a surprising inventiveness and depth of vision on the part of Rowlandson. His comedic art joyously captures the spirit of the age by finding humour in the everyday aspects of bourgeois life in Regency London. A widening of the frame of reference allows us to see a reiteration of his vis comica in a selection of other works by Rowlandson. The discussion ends with the plea that twenty-first-century art historians and critics should take advantage of the open access to many major collections that digitization allows and endeavour to construct an online and fully searchable catalogue raisonné of Rowlandson’s satires.


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pp. 715-730
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