Thomas Rowlandson – Dirty Old Man

Thomas Rowlandson: Prolific and noted 18th century English caricaturist; dirty old perv. Amongst his body of work which included portraiture, landscape and depictions of city low-life, Rowlandson produced a quite a number of erotic illustrations and woodcuts.

I’ve found it quite interesting and amusing to peruse his erotica as I couldn’t help but notice a few emerging themes, all of which I will reveal over time. However, today I had to start with the most outstanding thread which links his erotic artworks.: The abundance of drawings depicting lecherous old men, peering intently and with unbridled joy at young ladies’ private parts.

How could I not, indeed?


I don’t like to make assumptions, but one would have to assume that this smiling young woman is prostituting herself. Surely there couldn’t be any other explanation for this scenario. Ah, well…. as long as everyone is happy…


And if you thought the old men in the first drawing was getting a bird’s eye view, it doesn’t get much more in-your-face than this. Perhaps the gentlemen are a tad short-sighted.


Here we have quite the gaggle of pervy old men, yet again having a bloody good look up a young woman’s vay jay jay. I have to wonder what is the significance of the paper volume by the bed, and the pot of what appears to be phalluses in the bottom right hand corner. Then again, maybe I don’t want to know.


Well, it’s about time the old chap’s stopped perving and got some action, don’t you think? Although they do look distubingly on the edge of cardiac arrest, judging by their facial expressions. I swear to God she has to be receiving some kind of compensation for this…

Coming soon: Thomas Rowlandson – It’s the 18th Century and Everybody is Having Sex. ;)


~ by at her discretion on November 26, 2007.

6 Responses to “Thomas Rowlandson – Dirty Old Man”

  1. Bloody hell, I can’t get over the expressions on the mens’ faces! On the first three pictures there is a mixture of curiosity, lechery and what the…??. Is that a magnifying glass of some sort that one of the men is holding in picture 3? It all seems fairly run of the mill behaviour though, judging by the expression on the ladies’ faces.

    As for the 4th picture. The flushed faces, the facial expressions, the clenched fists… One wonders what they are actually thinking. It doesn’t look like there’s much enjoyment going on for them….

    This is really interesting. Looking forward to more! :-)

  2. I know! The facial expressions are bizarre. The look of surprise, or indeed shock on their faces in every picture indicates they’ve never seen such a thing before as a lady’s vagina. I don’t know enough about the sexual climate of the times, but one has to assume that sex was fairly socially taboo.

    There is a weird vibe to the 4th picture. It’s like a flurry of activity, and the man on the left looks like he’s about to topple over. Lucky she’s got him by the willy then, heh. The looks on their faces are more looks of sheer horror, than pleasure. I don’t get it.

    Thanks, and more on the way, my dear. :)

  3. Sadly, Rowlandson gets ZERO points for subtlety. Not exactly the most nuanced artwork I’ve ever seen. ;)

    I want to laugh, but the men in these cartoons are so menacing and overtly threatening, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Is he lamenting these disgusting brutes or celebrating them? The fact that the women in these pictures are probably prostitutes and his work is mostly sexual leads me to believe he had less than righteous intentions. Possibly a sleazebag? Just maybe…

    I have to give those cartoons credit for one thing: they portray women in an era when women looked like women and not plastic surgery happy anorexia freaks. Porn hasn’t been as honest since.

  4. Funnily enough, Rowlandson’s work wasn’t mostly sexual. He was far better known in the day for his caricatures and illustrations of city life and the like. He just happened to do a sideline in erotica. Also, if you saw a picture of the artist, you might understand the reason behind these drawings. He looks not unlike our protagonists… ;)

    I’m completely with you on the portrayal of women in these pictures. These days, those women would be filling a Weight Watchers meeting, rather than being celebrated as beautiful, sexual beings. Shame.

  5. This only i know: d. pearce has no sense of humour

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