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A selection of original prints by Thomas Rowlandson to ‘The English Dance of Death’ [1815-1816]

Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) is Britain’s best-loved draughtsman. As an astute observer of the lively Georgian world that he knew so intimately it seems at first sight that the Dance of Death would have been an uncongenial subject for ‘Rolly’s’ satiric pen and incisive etching needle. However, Rowlandson was to display the true capability of his unique imagination while interpreting the theme in quite an unorthodox manner.

In the middle of the Regency era Rowlandson used the idea of the Dance of Death to make social comment on the cultural life of his day. His drawing style and the medium of the finely etched and subtly coloured print, however, contrasted markedly with the earlier tradition and ‘pictorial’ levity permeates his images.

Here ‘Ladies of the town’ are surprised by Death (always a skeleton) dressed as a Beau, but here also are the Sot, the Shrew, and the Gamester; Bailiffs, Doctors, Duellists, ‘Maiden Ladies’, Politicians, Seamen, Servants, Sportsmen - indeed society, from the exalted to the humble, are depicted confronting their nemesis. Some object “The time’s not right”, some look surprised, some are chagrined, some are ready, but all are depicted with the lighthearted touch of the artist’s pen. Pathos is largely absent in most of the prints and Rowlandson treats of the subject, if not in an altogether light-hearted or cavalier fashion then at least in the fatalistic manner of the social observer resignedly shrugging his shoulders and saying c’est le vie.

The selected prints in the exhibition are rightly considered examples of Rowlandson at his best, combining his unique artistic facility in line with his inimitable approach to social commentary.

Exhibition Specifications

Minimum of 17 frames containing 33 coloured prints (original colourings) from the 'The English Dance of Death' (1815-1816)

Introductory graphic panel and A5 sizedexplanatory labels

Professionally designed poster supplied in pdf format to be adapted for printing by venue.

Gallery Requirements

25-30 running meters.


Exhibitions require patrolling during opening hours and a comprehensive alarm system & secure premises at night

Hiring Fee

£150/week for a minimum of three weeks.

Transport Costs

Venues to arrange forward transport or take advantage of an inclusive transport tariff whichever is preferred.


Please contact: Dr Leo John Defreitas


For more information please contact Graphicus Touring on 01295 256110