Rowlandson underscored gambling’s grip on British aristocrats at the end of the eighteenth century by centering the action in this drawing upon two sisters from the Spencer family, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Henrietta (Harriet) Ponsonby, Viscountess Duncannon. They preside over a nighttime game of hazard. The setting is likely Devonshire House, Piccadilly, where the duchess often turned the drawing room into a private gambling salon. Hazard, which involves two dice and a stepped betting system, is being played for high stakes. One die has already fallen, and the other hovers in midair transfixing those at the table. The young gambler at right wears the star of the Order of the Garter, which identifies him as the Prince of Wales. Georgiana, the seated dice-thrower, was by 1789 more than £60,000 in debt (almost $6,000,000 today).
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Title:A Gaming Table at Devonshire House
Artist:Thomas Rowlandson (British, London 1757–1827 London)
Sitter:Portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (British, Wimbledon, Surrey 1757–1806 Devonshire)
Medium:Pen and ink, brush and wash, watercolor
Dimensions:sheet: 12 1/8 x 17 1/8 in. (30.8 x 43.5 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, transferred from the Library
Inscription: Signed and dated (across bottom): " Rowlandson 1791"
W. T. B. Ashley (British), before 1880; H. W. Bruton(sold anonymously at the following); Christie's, London, Feb. 12, 1912, lot 108 (Property a Gentleman); P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.(bought at Christies, 1912); Knoedler and Co. (French, British, American)(1913, sold to Walters); Sarah Green Walters (American); Park-Bernet, New York, April 25, 1941, lot 1067 (Walters sale); Vendor: Park-Bernet, New York April 25, 1941, no. 1067
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine," September 13, 2011–March 4, 2012.
Joseph Grego Rowlandson the Caricaturist: A selection from his works, with anecdotal desciptions.... 2 vols., London, 1880, p. 417, vol. 2, ill.
Christie, Manson and Woods Property of a Gentleman: Works by Thomas Rowlandson. [Sale catalogue]. London, February 12, 1912, cat. no. 108, p. 11.
Knoedler and Co. Original Drawings by Thomas Rowlandson. Exhcat. New York, Feb. 1-15, 1913, cat. no. 108.
Louise Burroughs "High Life and Low Life in the Eighteenth Century." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 36, no. 10, New York, October 1941, pp. 209-211, ill.
Park-Bernet, New York Mrs. Henry Walters Collection: Rare Books. . .fifth and last session Auction catalogue. New York, April 25, 1941, cat. no. 1067, p. 255.
Walter Mehring European Drawings from the Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Portfolio of Collotype Reproductions [Vol. 1: Italian Drawings; Vol. 2: Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British drawings; Vol. 3: "New Series": Italian, Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British drawings]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 3 vols., New York, 1942–44, cat. no. 62 (vol.2), fig. no. 62, ill.
Adrian Bury Rowlandson Drawings. 1949, pl. 15, p. 81, ill.
Bernard Falk Thomas Rowlandson:His Life and Art. London, 1950, p. 84, ill.
M.C. "Rowlandson and some Contemporary Comic Draughtsmen." Leeds Art Calendar. vol. 9, Summer 1955, p. 6.
A. Hyatt Mayor "Rowlandson's England." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 20, New York, February 1962, fig. no. 4, ill.
John T. Hayes Rowlandson Watercolours and Drawings. Phaidon Press, 1972, fig. 53, no.. 87, pp. 55, 151, ill.
Ronald Paulson Rowlandson: a New Interpretation. New York, 1972, p. 17.
Arthur Calder-Marshall The Two Duchesses. Harper & Row, 1978, opp. p. 80, ill.
Celina Fox Londoners. London, 1987, p. 88.
John T. Hayes The Art of Thomas Rowlandson. Ex. cat., February 6-April 8, 1990, The Frick Collection, New York, NY; April 21-June, 1990, The Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; June 23-August 5, 1990, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD. Art Services International, 1990, cat. no. 48, pp. 124-5, ill.
Nadine Orenstein, Constance C. McPhee Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine Exh. cat.: September 13, 2011 - March 4, 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven and London, 2011, Entry by Constance McPhee, cat. no. 77, pp. 109, 111, ill.
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