Title: The Bonnet Shop, Cranbourne Alley
Pen and ink and watercolor
Dimensions: Image: 12 3/4 x 10 1/8 inches (32.4 x 25.7 cm)
Acquired through the Museum Membership Fund
Throughout a long and prolific career, Rowlandson examined British life with a gimlet eye, recording the social and political activity of his countrymen in drawings, watercolors, and engravings. Often satirical, sometimes sentimental, they astutely capture the spirit of the age and continue to entertain today.
The Bonnet Shop, Cranbourne Alley was published as a colored engraving with this added text: “Misery A La Mode. The being overpersuaded by a canting Shopwoman, in endeavouring to put off a stale Article—that it is the most becoming and suitable to your stile of Features—but on consulting your friends and acquaintance they pronounce it the most frightful hideous and unfashionable thing that would disgrace Cranbourn [sic] Alley.”
In our drawing, the watercolor washes are much more muted than in the final printed version (in the collection of the Britsh Museum), where the garishness of the colors accentuates a satirical image of a pretty shop girl encouraging her wealthy but unattractive customer to purchase a hat. To make the etching, the artist would have reversed the drawing so that when it was printed, it would be oriented correctly. (“Drawing the Line: 150 Years of European Artists on Paper," curated by Nancy E. Green and presented at the Johnson Museum January 20–June 10, 2018)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.