Thomas Rowlandson

Large (Clark Art Museum)

Thomas Rowlandson’s comic ink drawing The Cat-astrophe, or Crash to My Grandmother’s Old China, from around 1800, demonstrates that some puns are forever.

Upstairs, three women—one of them young and fashionably attired, two of them rather older—look on in shock and horror as a little pounce of cats bounds down the stairs, tripping the two servants who carry the referred-to China.

The main purpose of such a scene is simply humor.

The English Dance of Death
Thomas Rowlandson. London, 1814-16; 1817.

First editions. 2 volumes, along with The Dance of Life, together, 3 volumes. Engraved colored title-page and 37 hand-colored engraved plates in each volume of the Dance of Death, 25 hand-colored plates in the Dance of Life, by Rowlandson. Tall 8vo, contemporary calf with gilt borders and spines, green and tan spine labels, by Tout.

From bookride: “Rowlandson’s work, among his best, is a jollier affair more of a satire on the follies and anomalies of his time. Gordon N. Ray claims that this work is "the only series on the subject since Holbein’s to rival that master.” Martin Hardie writes: “It is obvious at a glance that the artist bestowed exceptional care on the illustrations for this book. The union of the gruesome and the grotesque appealed strongly to his imagination, and in completeness of detail and carefulness of grouping the illustrations excel nearly all his other work. The hand-colouring also has been judiciously applied. Combe’s versification is full of wit, and shows a force and vigour surprising in a man who had passed his allotted threescore years and ten – a fact that adds a certain grimness to the work.” “

Title: Study of Reptiles                                                             
Artist: Thomas Rowlandson                                                                        
Date:  18th–19th century         
Media:  Pen And Two Tones Of Ink And Watercolor Wash With Traces Of Graphite         
Dimensions:  Sheet: 245 x 200 mm (9 5/8 x 7 7/8 in.)         
Country:  England 
Source: de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Ninth Day

Downstairs, the heavy door opens.
Voices rise
touch me like a physical force.
The air is tangy
with strains of music
as I lift my arms slowly.
There is no need for more.
I am fatted on the rind
of shadows, harvested light
and what light enables.
I allow myhself to be led to the table.

Nicholas Samaras, from “Fasting.” Art: Thomas Rowlandson, Fast Day.