The Miseries of Domestic Life

The last drawing here refers to an old rhyme: “A smoking chimney and scolding wife / are among the greatest trials of life.” As far as we know, Rowlandson never married or had children, but in his later years he did live with a woman who eventually inherited his property. Perhaps his distrust of married life led to such entertaining scenes of domestic miseries.

The same pale colors and brown inks in these drawings appear in sketches for many of his projects during this period, suggesting that he worked simultaneously on multiple commissions. Rowlandson appreciated Beresford’s subject matter but disliked illustrating someone else’s text; for each of the next books he published, his drawings were made first, with authors adding texts later to describe his pictures.