• 28 July to 25 September 2015
  • Deadline 5:00 pm
  • Conference date: 22 January 2016
  • The Paul Mellon Centre & The Queen's Gallery

A collaborative study-day organised by Royal Collection Trust and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

The prints, drawings and watercolours of Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827), which are to be showcased in the forthcoming exhibition High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, have long been recognised as offering a remarkable combination of satirical invention and artistic brilliance. This study-day, which has been co-organised by Royal Collection Trust and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, uses Rowlandson’s work as the starting-point for a broader art-historical examination of British graphic satire – whether drawn, engraved or painted on paper – between the later years of the 18th century and today.

Rowlandson and After is inspired by the recent upsurge in ambitious scholarship on the pictorial satires of the Georgian and Victorian periods, and by a desire to explore graphic satire’s long-standing identity as a fluid, hybrid form that seems always to straddle different worlds – art, journalism, literature and politics – rather than belonging fully to any one particular cultural sphere.  Accordingly, submissions are invited that engage with examples of graphic satire dating from any point across the last 250 years, and that address the following questions, among others:

  • What can Rowlandson’s work tell us about the broader workings of graphic satire in his period, and how has it helped shape the practice of his successors?
  • What have been the distinctive formal, iconographic, technical and textual characteristics of this particular strand of artistic practice at different historical moments, and how and why have they changed?   
  • What is the relationship between graphic satire and other forms of visual art?
  • What kind of artistic persona is associated with this form of practice – how has the figure of the satirist been defined and imagined?
  • How has the history of graphic satire been shaped by developments in print technology?
  • What is the relationship between graphic satire and journalism; or graphic satire and literature; or graphic satire and political discourse?
  • How might histories of graphic satire be related to histories of British humour?
  • How does graphic satire operate today – and how might contemporary examples of the genre be compared to the work of artists such as Rowlandson?

The day will be split between the Paul Mellon Centre and The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

Please send proposals (of no more than 250 words) for 25 minutes papers to: Ella Fleming, Events Manager, events@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk by 5.00pm on Friday 25 September 2015.


(Image credit: Thomas Rowlandson, A York Address to the Whale. Caught lately off Gravesend. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015)