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Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

The Chamber of Genius 2 Apr 1812

RCIN 913706

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A watercolour of an artist seated, working at a canvas and resting his foot on a pile of books. In the background, his female companion is still asleep in bed whilst an unguarded infant pours a drink from a bottle. A second infant sits in front of a fire, busy stoking the flames with bellows. Garments hang from a makeshift line hung across the room and a violin stands propped in the corner. In this drawing of a struggling artist surrounded by his family, Rowlandson contrasts the idleness of the sleeping woman with the industry of her young children. The palette bearing an ‘s’ may be a sly allusion to Hogarth’s self portrait of 1749, which showed a similar palette displaying Hogarth’s sinuous ‘line of beauty’.