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Print - H.Beard Print Collection
  • H.Beard Print Collection
    Thomas Rowlandson, born 7 - died 1827
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H.Beard Print Collection

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (published)

  • Date:

    late 18th century - early 19th century (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thomas Rowlandson, born 7 - died 1827 (etcher)
    Nixon, John (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hand coloured etching

  • Credit Line:

    Harry R. Beard Collection, given by Isobel Beard

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Bartholomew Fair was first held in the Smithfield area of London from 1133 until 1855. Throughout its history local residents protested about public disorder and immorality and it was eventually brought to an end by the City of London Corporation. During its heydays in the 17th and 18th centuries it was hugely popular, attracting crowds from all sections of society who came to enjoy the market stalls and the sideshows. Rowlandson's lively caricature depicts some of the entertainments on offer in the 18th century and is full of detail. An early form of fairground big wheel is being hand-turned by a man in blue breeches, standing on a platform at its centre. It is positioned besides a row of booths with painted canvas fronts which advertise the attractions inside. At 'Miles Menagerie' a fairground barker with a stick is encouraging people to come in. In 1798 Miles went into partnership with Stephen Polito, another menagerie owner whose booth is visible on the right. As 'Miles and Politos Menagerie' they exhibited together at Bartholomew Fair in 1799, which suggests that this etching is of an earlier date. Saunders and Gyngle (also spelt Gyngell), whose names appear on the other booths, led well known fairground troupes. Gyngell, a conjuror, ran a puppet company, but in 1796 is recorded as a comedian and 'Gyngle's Grand Medley', which is announced on the booth on the right, appears to be a comic show, with actors, a dancer and a Mr Punch figure visible at the front. The fairgoers themselves are amusingly depicted as they drink, stroll, and possibly get into a fight. In the foreground a sweeper has brushed against a woman, causing her to gather up her skirts and show rather too much leg, and on the swings a woman is sick on a man's head.

Physical description

Hand coloured etching of Bartholomew Fair, with, on left, fairground rides, and booths for 'Mile's Menagerie', 'Saunders Tragic Theatre' and 'Gyngles Grand Medley' in a row at the rear.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (published)


late 18th century - early 19th century (published)


Thomas Rowlandson, born 7 - died 1827 (etcher)
Nixon, John (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Hand coloured etching


Height: 25 cm Print size, Width: 35.7 cm Print size

Descriptive line

Hand-coloured etching showing Bartholomew Fair. Thomas Rowlandson. Harry Beard Collection


Ink; Paper; Paint


Printing; Etching (printing process); Hand-colouring


Entertainment & Leisure; Prints


Theatre and Performance Collection

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