How many drawings and watercolours did Thomas Rowlandson produce in his lifetime? Lots. In fact, it was probably lots and lots.
Joseph Grego was able to fill two substantial volumes with his attempt at cataloguing Rowlandson’s work and if the frequency with which previously unknown items continue to turn up at auction is anything to by, his efforts were still far from comprehensive. I think it would be a shame if these items were simply to disappear back into another private collection for thirty or forty years and so whenever I come across anything that I think is worth sharing, I will always endeavour to ensure that it gets a mention here in The Print Shop Window.
This unsigned, undated, watercolour may have been a preparatory drawing for a planned engraving, although I must admit that I haven’t been able to locate a printed edition of the image anywhere online. It’s entitled The Duenna Outwitted and its theme of young lovers outsmarting an elderly authority figure is a constantly recurring one in Rowlandson’s oeuvre. Here we see that the quick-thinking young woman has snatched up a set of bellows and is using them to extinguish the candle that would allow her hag-like governess to uncover the presence of a young man in the next room. Why she had a set of bellows in the bedroom in the first place is possibly something that’s best left to the imagination.