1815 Thomas Rowlandson - Dance of Death - Memento Mori - hand colored aquatint - Suicide
Original Aquatint & Etching plate with Original Hand Colour
UNUSUALLY FINE EXAMPLE with full margins and only very minor marginal wear
Rudolph Ackermann, London, 1815.
Thomas Rowlandson: Along with Hogarth, Gillray and Cruikshank, Thomas Rowlandson is at the uppermost peak of English satirical art. Amongst these masters, however, Rowlandson was the most gifted artist and his compositions always seemed the closest to the truth for he often lived the dissipated style of life he so memorably satirized. Along with Hogarth, Gillray and Cruikshank, Thomas Rowlandson is at the uppermost peak of English satirical art. Amongst these masters, however, Rowlandson was the most gifted artist and his compositions always seemed the closest to the truth for he often lived the dissipated style of life he so memorably satirized. After studying in both Paris and London, Thomas Rowlandson began his career as a portrait painter. By 1782, however, he devoted himself almost exclusively to his first love; caricature and satirical art. After receiving a large inheritance, Thomas Rowlandson quickly gambled it away. After losing his fortune at a thirty-six hour card game he is known to have exclaimed, "I've played the fool, but (holding up his pencils) here is my resource."
Working with such British publishers as Flores and Thomas Tegg, Thomas Rowlandson designed many memorable satires. His greatest work, however, lay ahead in the early nineteenth century when he collaborated with the famous London publisher, Rudolph Ackermann, to produce some of the finest satirical series in the history of art. These included The Microcosm of London (1808), the Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque (1812) and The English Dance of Death, published in two volumes in 1815 and 1816. Loosely based upon Holbein's Renaissance "Dance of Death", this latter series superbly uncovers the foibles of early nineteenth century life. For each of these original prints, Rowlandson created the drawings and etched the plates. Ackermann and his studio then provided the aquatinting and hand-colouring. The etchings from The English Dance of Death have long taken their place as among Rowlandson's greatest works of original art. This particular engraving deals with the hazards and consequences of boxing (pugilism). The words beneath the engraving read; "How vain are all your Triumphs past: For this Set-To will be your last".