Thomas Rowlandson. “Doctor Syntax Stopt by Highwaymen.” From James Combe’s The Tours of Dr. Syntax. Vol. 1 ca. 4 1/2 x 7 3/4. Aquatint by Thomas Rowlandson. Original hand color.
These delightful prints are from the famous “tours of Dr. Syntax.” These tours chronicle the various escapades of the fictional 19th-century English clergyman, Dr. Syntax. The animated drawing and wonderful facial expressions make them excellent examples of Rowlandson’s parodic work from the great age of English caricature. True to the comic muse, Rowlandson reversed the process of illustration by first drawing a series of sketches, then commissioning James Combe to write a narrative about the silly things that are going on. These tours were a satire on William Gilpin’s series of picturesque journeys to different parts of England with emphasis on landscape pictures and flattering prose into which Rowlandson inserted his stumbling parson and a wide range of landscape and decorative arts portrayal.