Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827). "A Rough Sketch of the Times, as Deleniated by Sir Francis Burdett."
London: Thomas Tegg, May 9, 1819. Tegg's Caricatures No. 15. Hand colored etching. 8 1/2 x 12 7/8 (neat lines). Small hole in bottom margin below text. Some browning.
Trained at the Royal Academy Schools and in Paris, Thomas Rowlandson quickly earned a reputation as a caricature expert. His sharp eye, comic renderings, and delicate use of color soon established him as one of the important English artists of his period. In order to fund his expensive, convivial lifestyle, he produced numerous prints and series of prints, poking cleverly at British society and popular culture.
Sir Francis Burdett (1770-1844, a prominent political reformer and member of Parliament) is shown standing in the center of the image, a sash across his breast labeled Magna Charta and Bill of Rights; he holds The Genius of Honour and Integrity by the hand, and, pointing to The Monster of Corruption, observes: 'Look here upon this picture, and on this, and then judge for yourselves.' The persons of both patriot and monster are mapped out with inscriptions, their several parts being typically labelled: The Genius of Honour possesses 'a Sound Mind;' 'An Eye ever watchful to the Welfare of his fellow Citizens;' 'A Tongue that never belied a good Heart;' 'An Upright Breast and an Honest Heart;' 'A Shoulder that never shrinks in Trouble;' 'A Lover of Peace and Plenty and a Plain Liver;' 'Pockets ever open to the necessities of Fellow Ceatures;' 'A Knee to Religion;' 'Legs ever steady in his Country's Cause;' and 'Feet to crush tyranny;' while in his 'Hand of Justice' is displayed a declaration of these principles: 'A staunch supporter of the Bill of Rights; an Advocate for a Fair Representation of the people, and an enemy to Bribery and Corruption.'
To the right of the page the attributes of The Monster of Corruption are shown. The head of the monster is marked 'Professions and Promises;' his nose has 'a scent for Interest;' his huge eye sees only 'Interest', and he has a "Mouth of Guile; he wears a 'Collar of Corruption;' is 'a Cringing Soul,' has a 'Pampered Appetite;' and 'a Rotten Borough,' and possesses 'Secret Service Money.' His 'Arms of Power' end in 'Hands of Extortion,' which grasp 'Pensions, Reversions, Perquisites of Office,' and a 'Bag of Bribery;' he is supported on 'Legs of Luxury and Feet of Connivance.'
This social satire places Burdett, with the virtue of Cato the Elder, in the company of British men such as John Wilkes, Arthur Beardmore, John Lilburne, and others.
Other caricatures by Thomas Rowlandson: