Royal Circus

  • About the work
    Location
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection

    This print is the result of a collaboration between the English artist Thomas Rowlandson and French architectural draughtsman Augustus Charles Pugin. Pugin drew the architectural scenes and Rowlandson added the characters. The resulting prints formed part of ‘The Microcosm of London’, published by Rudolph Ackermann. Issued in monthly installments from 1808 to 1810, ‘The Microcosm of London’ comprised three volumes, which together included over 100 illustrations.

    Rudolph Ackermann was the most important publisher of illustrated books in England during the first half of the 19th century, operating from ‘The Repository of Arts’ (the premises of his publishing business) on the Strand.

  • About the artist
    Auguste Charles Pugin, artist and architectural draughtsman, was born in Paris but settled in England during the French Revolution. After attending the Royal Academy Schools he worked for architect John Nash in Wales and later in London. Nash’s influence inspired Pugin’s interest in the Gothic style. He illustrated numerous topographical and architectural publications, including Ackermann’s ‘The Microcosm of London’ (1808-10). When, in 1818, he was commissioned to produce plates for ‘Specimens of Gothic Architecture’, he employed a team of architectural students to assist. His architectural designs include the interior of the Diorama in Regent’s Park (1823) in collaboration with James Morgan and the layout of Kensal Green Cemetery (1830).
    John Bluck was an aquatint engraver, mainly of topographical views, but also of marine and sporting subjects after his contemporaries. He produced plates for numerous publications.
    Thomas Rowlandson, caricaturist and draughtsman, attended the Royal Academy Schools. After his studies he worked in watercolours and developed a style influenced by Gainsborough and French Rococo art. From 1784 he received commissions for publications and later gained the patronage of the Prince of Wales. He also produced satirical images, illustrating well-known scandals and characters. Despite gaining a substantial inheritance in 1789, by 1793 he was in poverty. However, his financial worries eased when he received commissions from Ackermann, which led to his involvement with A. C. Pugin in ‘The Microcosm of London’. Rowlandson later produced sketches for the adventures of ‘Dr Syntax’ (1812-21), also published by Ackermann.
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  • Details
    Title
    Royal Circus
    Date
    published 1 May 1809
    Medium
    Coloured aquatint
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Agnew's, September 1979
    GAC number
    14747