Mobile menu

High Spirits

The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson

Kate Heard

With contributions by Nicholas J.S. Knowles

 272 pages

There are, of course, two sides to the art of caricatures – the caricaturist and the subjects of his work. The latter, of which I am one, certainly need a sense of humour in order to enjoy a caricature of themselves. They need to be masochists to collect cartoons about themselves.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

Cover for High Spirits ©

Paperback, 260 x 280 mm, 200 colour illustrations 
ISBN 978 1 905686 76 6

Portly squires and young dandies, Jane Austenesque heroines and their gruesome chaperones, dashing young officers and corrupt politicians. The keenly observant satires by English caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1757–1827) show his sharp eye for current affairs as well as his appreciation of the humour in everyday life. 'High Spirits' brings together nearly one hundred comic works by Rowlandson, with subjects spanning the entire range of English society.

Full-colour illustrations are accompanied by new archival research on both the works and their royal collectors, from George IV to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Kate Heard is Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings, Royal Collection Trust. Her other publications include George IV: Art & Spectacle, The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy 1714–1760 and Maria Merian's Butterflies.  

Related exhibition
High Spirits

Through the humour of Rowlandson’s drawings and prints, this exhibition examines life at the turn of the 19th century.

Special Royal Collection online price. Every purchase helps us to care for and increase access to the Royal Collection.

Download as PDF

Highlights from the publication