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Watercolour - The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque
  • The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque
    Thomas Rowlandson, born 1756 - died 1827
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The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, drawn)

  • Date:

    early 19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thomas Rowlandson, born 1756 - died 1827 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    watercolour on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case DG, shelf 31, box A

Physical description

Dr. Syntax unable to pull up at the Land's End is fearful of being carried to the World's End; Humerous scene of a man in a blue suit, white wig and tricorn hat riding a horse at full speed towards a wall of the Land's End public house on the left, another rider in the distance, with a man on another horse with a basket over his left arm, a dog nearby in the foreground and a pig with piglets in the centre; View on the coast during a storm, with the vivid flashes of lightning frightening the people, and the heavy waves dashing on the shore; Watercolour on paper.

Place of Origin

England (probably, drawn)


early 19th century (made)


Thomas Rowlandson, born 1756 - died 1827 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

watercolour on paper


Height: 7.7 in, Width: 10.8 in

Object history note

This illustration appears to have been designed for the work The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque but not etched nor used as a suggestion to William Combe.

Historical context note

The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque is a story of a fictional, rural schoolmaster and pastor who attempts to make his fortune by going travelling, and then writing and illustrating a book about his experiences of quaint and unusual places.

The story is told in the form of verse, written by William Combe, a prolific English writer of miscellaneous prose and satirical verse, and copiously illustrated with colour plates by Thomas Rowlandson. The text was written to elucidate the illustrations and William Combe explains this process in the introduction to the second volume, 1820:

'This second tour is, like the former one, a work of suggestions from the plates by Mr. Rowlandson, though not with such entire reserve as the first. Some few of the subjects may have been influenced by hints from me; and I am willing to suppose that such are the least amusing of them.'

The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque first appeared in serial form in 1809, within The Poetical Magazine, published by Rudolph Ackermann. The work was first collected into book form 'by popular demand' in 1812, and was reprinted a number of times during the following decades, becoming one of the most popular books of early 19th-century England.

This collaboration of designer, author, and publisher went on to produce a further two 'Tours'; The Second Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of Consolation (1820), and The Third Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of a Wife (1821).

Descriptive line

Rowlandson, Thomas; Dr Syntax Unable to Pull up at the Lands End; Illustration apparently designed for 'The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque' but not etched and published as part of it; Watercolour on paper; English School; Early 19th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

DYCE COLLECTION. A Catalogue of the Paintings, Miniatures, Drawings, Engravings, Rings and Miscellaneous Objects Bequeathed by The Reverend Alexander Dyce. London : South Kensington Museum, 1874.


Paper; Water-colour


Painting; Watercolour drawing

Subjects depicted

Tricorne; People; Dog; Coastal scenes; Piglets; Horse; Wig; Pig; Pub; Storm




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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