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Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827).
The Doctor Sketching the Lake
Pen and watercolor drawing for "The Schoolmaster's Tour" in The Poetical Magazine (May 1810) with text by William Combe; reprinted in book form as The Tour of Doctor Syntax in Search of the Picturesque (1812)
4 11/16 x 7 9/16 inches (120 x 192 mm.)
Gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr.; 2006.24: 2
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William Gilpin's success in popularizing the Picturesque inspired this parody by Rowlandson working in collaboration with the hack writer William Combe. Following Gilpin's example, the curate-schoolmaster Dr. Syntax visits picturesque locales in hopes of making his fortune by publishing a book about his artistic adventures. He views fashionable attractions, such as a country churchyard and a Gothic ruin, but the hapless pedant overlooks the true beauty of his surroundings and instead blunders into a series of comic predicaments and ridiculous situations. This pratfall in the Lake District is a typical example of the accidents he endures, sketchbook in hand.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.