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Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

The School of Eloquence (The Grand Debating Society)

RCIN 913719

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A drawing of a debating society in which a chairman seated at high chair holds a piece of paper from which he reads. He is surrounded by men and women who are engaged in spirited conversation. A man on the right punches his left fist in the air and a couple of men seated on the left appear to listen intently. This is one of Rowlandson’s earliest surviving drawings. It shows a meeting of the School of Eloquence, one of the many debating societies which were popular in London at this time. The topic of the School’s debate may be hinted at by the print, State of the Nation, which is on the wall behind. Rowlandson’s early drawings owe a strong debt to the style of John Hamilton Mortimer.