Thomas Rowlandson was an English artist and caricaturist working throughout the second half of the eighteenth century. He was a prolific artist–as it was once said, he ‘etched as much copper as would sheathe the British navy.’ Rowlandson trained in London and in Paris, and after entering the Royal Academy and exhibiting for several years with much success, Rowlandson set up business on his own in 1778. Rowlandson worked closely with Rudolph Ackermann, a successful art publisher, who printed a number of Rowlandson’s pictures.
We are delighted to have a watercolour by Rowlandson in the collection entitled La Place de Mer, Antwerp.
Rowlandson has taken really particular care with the topography and detail of this view. During the sixteenth century La Place de Mer became one of Antwerp’s most important thoroughfares, due to its proximity to the Stock Exchange. Both the Church of the Carmelites (on the left) and the cross were demolished in 1797 during the French occupation of the city. The street to the right is the Huidevettersstraat.
This watercolour was subsequently etched by Wright and Schultz and then published by R. Ackermann, 1 August 1797.
The watercolour was exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in 1929 and further exhibited at the Fine Art Society in 1959. The picture is illustrated in John Hayes’ 1972 publication, Rowlandson – watercolours and drawings. Interestingly, there is an unsigned and undated version of this watercolour at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.