Box-Lobby Loungers

Object Details


Box-Lobby Loungers


Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1757 - 1827)






Pencil, pen and black and gray ink, and watercolor

Object Number:



37.5 × 56.2 cm (14 3/4 × 22 1/8 in.)

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When this drawing was made in 1785, contemporary viewers would have easily identified the principal figure of the tall gentleman near the center of the crowded theater lobby as Colonel George Hanger, a friend of the Prince of Wales, later George IV. Thomas Rowlandson showed him assessing two pretty young girls, while a trio of older and less savory characters whisper to each other at the left. One of the gentlemen pays a fat older woman for an unspecified reason. To the right, a man in the crowd studies other young women through his lorgnette, while a short gentleman mistakenly approaches an annoyed middle-aged lady. The sharp linearity of the drawing emphasizes the rich variety of characters and the humorous, biting view of human foibles.

Renowned in his lifetime as a political caricaturist, Rowlandson produced this large drawing for an etching that was published on January 5, 1786. In the printed version of this scene, the artist added a playbill to the wall that advertised: "The Way of the World" and "Who's the Dupe?", further emphasizing the drawing's satire.


George Guy Greville, fourth earl of Warwick, fourth earl Brooke, 1818 - 1893 (Warwick Castle, England)

May 21, 1896

Christie's (London) [sold, George Guy Sale, Christie's, London, May 21, 1896, lot 336]


Henry George Alfred Marius Victor Francis Herbert, sixth earl of Carnarvon, 1898 - 1987 (London, England)


Captain Desmond Coke (London, England)

November 22, 1929

Christie's (London) [sold, Captain Desmond Coke Sale, Christie's, London, November 22, 1929, lot 60]

December 19, 1945

Sotheby's (London) [sale, Sotheby's, London, December 19, 1945, lot 70]


Major Leonard Dent (Hillfields, Burleigh)

July 10, 1984

Christie's (London) [sold, Major Leonard Dent Sale, Christie's, London, July 10, 1984, lot 16]


Private Dealer (Boston, MA, USA), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

1785 exhibition (1785) (exhibited as The Back of the Boxes at the Theatre, Covent Garden)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1785
Rowlandson Centenary Exhibition (December 1927 to March 1928)
  • Tate Gallery (London), December 1927 to March 1928
A Loan Exhibition of Important Drawings by Thomas Rowlandson (May 1948)
  • Ellis and Smith (London), May to May 1948
Rowlandson - Drawings from Town and Country (March to April 1962)
  • Reading Museum and Art Gallery (Reading), March to April 1962
The Art of Thomas Rowlandson (February 5 to August 5, 1990) (catalogue by J. Hayes)
  • The Frick Collection (New York), February 5 to April 8, 1990
  • The Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh, April 21 to June 3, 1990
  • The Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore), June 23 to August 5, 1990
18th and 19th Century Drawings (March 15 to May 29, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), March 15 to May 29, 1994
Work and Play: Everyday Life in Drawings; 1520 - 1820 (July 31 to October 14, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 31 to October 14, 2001
The Prismatic Palette: Four Centuries of Watercolors (October 5, 2004 to January 2, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 5, 2004 to January 2, 2005
A Light Touch: Exploring Humor in Drawing (September 23 to December 7, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 23 to December 7, 2008
Luminous Paper: British Watercolors and Drawings (July 19 to October 23, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 19 to October 23, 2011
The Art of the Fold: Drawings of Drapery and Costume (October 6, 2015 to January 10, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 6, 2015 to January 10, 2016