Thomas Rowlandson signed the London gambling world


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Thomas Rowlandson was a English artist. He was born in 1756 and stood at the cradle of caricatures. Some even say that with his keen social gaze and political knowledge, he was the inventor of the caricature. He painted and drew numerous politicians and made cartoons of them. Because of his erotic work, he fell into oblivion for a long time after his death in 1827. His work was censored and boycotted in the 19th century.

We pick it up here at OnlineCasinoGround. Because he also made dozens of drawings, sketches and caricatures of the gambling world of his time. For some readers, they may also be interesting from a historical point of view. But we think it's mostly beautiful images, in the style of Thomas Rowlandson.

Thomas Rowlandson

Thomas Rowlandson

Example of an erotic image (of course one of the least violent ones is placed here).

Thomas Rowlandson is born in London on July 13, 1756 in a Jewish Quarter. That district is then the financial center of London, but is also known as a ghetto. Hardly anything is known about his mother, she may have died when Rowlandson was young. His father is a trader who often has financial problems. Thomas has a younger sister. She marries Samuel Howitt, who is known as a painter of sports scenes.

Thomas Rowlandson is ambitious. At the age of nine his father sent him to a school with some respect. There Thomas gets the first contacts with children from well-to-do families. He attends drawing lessons in Paris and London at a young age and studies at the Royal Academy for some time. In the meantime he regularly travels to France, in particular Paris, Belgium, Ireland and Wales. At a later age he also occasionally stays in the Netherlands.

Gambling and caricatures

For a long time, an aunt took care of Rowlandson's financial maintenance. When she dies, Thomas Rowlandson inherits a large sum of money from her. With that he enjoys himself in London's gambling rooms. When the bottom of his treasure chest comes into view, old school friends advise him to earn his money with caricatures.

He started drawing caricatures at an early age. He gradually refines his technique. He supplements that with knowledge of street life. And he has already sold drawings and caricatures to publishers and individuals. So he follows the advice of his friends. He focuses on caricatures, which is an emerging genre at this time, and illustrating stories and books.

Method and design

Thomas Rowlandson mainly draws with a reed pen. He then etches his design in copper plate. Finally, an engraver takes care of the further finishing. It consists of aquatint, a technique for using color in multiple areas. Coloring is done by hand.

There are more illustrators and caricaturists around 1780. These include even artists with an equally satirical view of their environment such as Rowlandson, such as Hogart, Cruikshank and Hogarth. But according to experts, Thomas Rowlandson stands head and shoulders above that. He has the most talent and is especially praised for his composition and eye for detail. In his satirical caricatures, Rowlandson also remains closest to reality.

Smithfield cheaters

Thomas Rowlandson is a caricature of Countryman and Sharpers at the age of 31. He sends it in for an exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1787. The finishing is done by John Keyse Sherwin. Both Sherwin and Rowlandson figure themselves in the image. Later the name of the drawing is changed to The Smithfield Sharpers.

Thomas Rowlandson himself is a big gambler. In the memoirs of his classmate John Bannister, recorded by John Adolphus, it says: Rowlandson was, unfortunately, extremely addicted to gambling. Bannister often discussed this with him, friendly but with fruitless conviction. One day John R Smith, an engraver, commented that Bannister should stop his efforts. “Save your sympathy and advice,” he said, “because Tom's gambling behavior cannot be cured.”

Rowlandson heard about Smith's remark and naturally made a cartoon (Hawks and a Pigeon) in which Smit was a character.

The Even-Odd table

Roulette precursors are plentiful in London. In 1782 there are only in the area of ​​St. James as more than 300 tables. The game is then called Even-Odd. On October 28, 1781 he etches a drawing that is simply called E O Table. It is then reused multiple times. Sometimes that happens with other titles, for example Private Amusement in 1786.

Thomas Rowlandson

The Even-Odd game, the predecessor of roulette.

In 2011, an art center showed some works by Thomas Rowlandson, including Private Amusement. The New York Times writes about that β€œBaby boomers enjoyed the joyful, irreverent cartoons of Mad Magazine, the mischievous carnal cartoon drawings by R. Crumb and political cruelty in drawings by Thomas Nast. Londoners had early versions of all three at the end of the 18th century. In the rude, immoral and devilishly funny images of Thomas Rowlandson. ”

Gambling table in Devonshire

Politics and satire are the subjects of Thomas Rowlandson. He is keen to emphasize nobility, but especially the grip gambling has on British aristocrats. A “Gaming table in Devonshire” from 1791 is just one example.

The drawing shows that Rowlandson drew the people clearly recognizable, which is of course necessary for a caricature. This drawing shows Georgiana and Henrietta, two sisters of the Spencer family, in the middle. That family belongs to one of the most prominent aristocratic families in Britain.

Thomas Rowlandson

Gaming Table at Devonshire

The scene is captured at Devonshire House on Piccadilly. There Georgiana often organizes gambling games there. She then simply has the salon remodeled so that she can play the Hazard game with her friends. They play for serious money. Georgiana is known to have a gambling debt of around 6 million euros around 1790, converted to the current time.

Noise at a Hazard table

Hazard is an old dice game that is hugely popular in England in the days of Thomas Rowlandson. He has therefore drawn several situations in which the game can be seen.

Thomas Rowlandson

Kick Up at a Hazard Table

In 1787 he made “Kick Up at a Hazard Table”. The skirmishes begin when a British officer, on the right in the image, has suffered a substantial loss. He points his gun at an old Frenchman. Rowlandson shows that the man is French with the ponytail. The man responds with a counterattack to protect his winnings. A third gambler responds with a chair, another with a bottle and candlestick.

The expressive use of color and hues, therefore, that differ little from each other, accentuate the drama that is taking place. According to art connoisseurs, it shows Rowlandson's craftsmanship. But compared to his earlier work, the growth in his work also. By the way, he makes this work at a time when he himself, due to some setbacks in gambling, is somewhat destitute.

Above this article the image “Hazard Room” can be seen. It is the most reproduced depiction of Thomas Rowlandson when it comes to gambling. It shows a gambling room in London, as we described earlier in the article about Willliam Crockford.


  • Memoires or John Bannister by John Adolphus from 1839, Volume 2, page 289
  • Article in New York Times, May 14, 2011 about exhibition with work by Thomas Rowlandson
  • The book “Thomas Rowlandson” by Art Young from 1938
  • The books “Rowlandson the caricaturist” by Josepth Grego from 1880
  • The book “A History of Caricature” by Bohun Lynch from 1926
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