Workhouse, St. James’s Parish
Colour aquatintpublished 1 December 1809
About the work
This aquatint 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. It is a plate from ‘The Microcosm of London’, published by Rudolph Ackermann. Ackermann was the most important publisher of illustrated books in England during the first half of the 19th century and worked from ‘The Repository of Arts’ (the premises of his publishing business) on the Strand. Issued in monthly installments from 1808 to 1810, ‘The Microcosm of London’ eventually comprised three volumes, which together contained over 100 illustrations.
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).
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.