b. 1756 London, Great Britain, d. 1827 London, Great Britain
It was said that the amount of copper Thomas Rowlandson etched would sheathe the British Navy. An inveterate gambler, for much of his life Rowlandson had to produce a flood of his comic prints to stay ahead of financial losses.A wealthy uncle and aunt raised Rowlandson after his textile-merchant father went bankrupt. His career developed quickly. He entered London's Royal Academy Schools in 1772, visited Paris in 1774, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1775, and won a silver medal in 1777. He left school in 1778 to set up in business.Rowlandson's depictions of life in Georgian England exposed human foibles and vanity with sympathy and rollicking humor. During the 1780s he consolidated the delicate style he used for his coarse subjects. He worked mainly in ink and watercolor, his rhythmic compositions, flowing line, and relaxed elegance inspired by French Rococo art. In 1789, at the height of critical and popular success, Rowlandson's aunt died, leaving him a large sum. He ran through the money quickly, traveling across Europe and gambling: by 1793 he was impoverished. His fortunes changed in 1797, when he began working for fine-art publisher Rudolph Ackermann, who published most of Rowlandson's finest work for twenty years.