Rowlandson satyrical print ‘BARTOLOMEW FAIR’ 1808


Thomas Rowlandson satyrical print, titled ‘BARTHOLOMEW FAIR’, depicting the rowdy goings-on at this annual London event which attracted Londoners of all classes, and was ripe to be lampooned by Rowlandson. Engraved by John Nixon, 1808


fair, some small stains, original colouring, framed in a period style wood frame.


frame 29x38cm


From a first edition copy (1808) of The Microcosm of London. Quarter folio, 3 volumes, this is plate 7. Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), and Augustus Charles Pugin (1762-1832), 'The Microcosm of London', published by Rudolph Ackermann (1808-10), aquatinted by Stadler. from the V&A website: Bartholomew Fair was first held in the Smithfield area of London from 1133 until 1855. Throughout its history local residents protested about public disorder and immorality and it was eventually brought to an end by the City of London Corporation. During its heydays in the 17th and 18th centuries it was hugely popular, attracting crowds from all sections of society who came to enjoy the market stalls and the sideshows. Rowlandson's lively caricature depicts some of the entertainments on offer in the 18th century and is full of detail. An early form of fairground big wheel is being hand-turned by a man in blue breeches, standing on a platform at its centre. It is positioned besides a row of booths with painted canvas fronts which advertise the attractions inside. At 'Miles Menagerie' a fairground barker with a stick is encouraging people to come in. In 1798 Miles went into partnership with Stephen Polito, another menagerie owner whose booth is visible on the right. As 'Miles and Politos Menagerie' they exhibited together at Bartholomew Fair in 1799, which suggests that this etching is of an earlier date. Saunders and Gyngle (also spelt Gyngell), whose names appear on the other booths, led well known fairground troupes. Gyngell, a conjuror, ran a puppet company, but in 1796 is recorded as a comedian and 'Gyngle's Grand Medley', which is announced on the booth on the right, appears to be a comic show, with actors, a dancer and a Mr Punch figure visible at the front. The fairgoers themselves are amusingly depicted as they drink, stroll, and possibly get into a fight. In the foreground a sweeper has brushed against a woman, causing her to gather up her skirts and show rather too much leg, and on the swings a woman is sick on a man's head.

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