May 142020

A trio of prints from the Metropolitan Museum by good old Thomas Rowlandson, all on the topic of luxury.

First up: one published in 1780 showing a clearly unimpressed servant dragging along a contraption rather like a gouty chair, into which a corpulent gentleman has been wedged, holding up either a sunshade (or, less likely, an umbrella). Luxury for one: hard work for the other.

Next up, one from 1786 with the same title, showing the delights of a pair of young lovers, cocooned within the curtains of their bed, being brought sustenance by a young maid.

And thirdly, a print entitled ‘French luxury, or repos a la francais’ – not dated, but published after 1800. The British Museum have a copy of the same print, which they describe as “a young woman asleep in an abandoned posture on a crooked and makeshift bed in a shabby room, hugging to her body and between her bare legs a large shapeless object (a cushion?), and grasping the leg of an upturned chair with her right hand; at right, a dog at the foot of the bed and a cat on a cushioned stool by the door, also sleeping.”

I rather suspect an underlying dig at the French by Rowlandson – the young lady is missing a male companion, and has beaten the bolster into a man-substitute, while her hand fondles the phallus-shaped hardness of the char leg…. Or do I just have a filthy mind?

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