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Record Image
Rowlandson, Thomas (British, b.1756, d.1827)
Where Poverty Comes in at the Door, Love Flies out of the Window
watercolour on paper
155 x 190 mm image size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1950 by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society with funds from the Peter Smeaton Bequest through the National Art Collections Fund, London.
Thomas Rowlandson was a gifted draughtsman who preferred the good life to the drudgery of developing a career. While still young he inherited enough capital to live comfortably but dissipated it gambling. Falling back on his talent, he became highly successful as a visual humourist. His theme was more social than political satire, in contrast to his famous contemporary James Gilray (1757–1815). His watercolours, like this one, were made into prints and widely circulated.
The message of this work is declared in the title. Love, represented by a traditional cupid, is literally flying out of the window. A fashionably dressed but plain and plump woman turns in that direction as ruffian debt collectors confront her dandified companion with scrolls representing his bills. The draughtsmanship is swift but unconsidered, the point made with a flourish and wit. The late Georgian audience for which the sketch was intended would recognise themselves with a laugh and a grimace.
The work belonged to a notable collector of such graphics, Desmond Coke. It is one of several by the artist in the Gallery’s extensive collection of British watercolours. New Zealand’s own cartoon tradition is directly descended from images like this.

not on view

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