The Miseries of Social Life

Rowlandson developed a cast of stock characters—clumsy academics, shrewish wives, penniless artists, drunken foxhunters—who appear in multiple projects, blurring  the distinction between drawings for Miseries and those  for later series. 

Most of the Rowlandson drawings in the Library’s collection differ from their counterparts among the published etchings, but Miseries of Social Life was reproduced exactly. These riotous scenes of crowded drinking parties turned up often in his prints, illustrating a favorite pastime of Rowlandson’s—until his money ran out. The text is transcribed directly from Beresford’s book in the artist’s own unruly handwriting, both personalizing the scene and emphasizing its disorder.