The Miseries of Games and Sports

From contemporary accounts, we know that Rowlandson drew quickly and that his facility with pen and ink was celebrated from an early age. He needed only a few casual lines to convey the energy and movement of a horse race, foxhunt, rowing competition, or any of the other genteel pleasures of nineteenth-century life. 

The central drawing captures the Doggett’s Coat and Badge rowing contest, held on the Thames River every year since 1715. Originally scheduled for the first day of August, the race is now held in late July to coincide with the seasonal tide. Winners still receive a traditional waterman’s red coat with a silver badge.