ROWLANDSON'S "GREATEST SUCCESS AS AN ILLUSTRATOR"
[COMBE, William]. The Tour of Doctor Syntax, in Search of the Picturesque; A Poem. WITH: The Second Tour of Doctor Syntax, in Search of Consolation; A Poem. WITH: The Third Tour of Doctor Syntax, in Search of a Wife; A Poem. WITH: Poetical Sketches of Scarborough. London: R. Ackermann, 1813, 1820, 1821, 1813. Four volumes. Tall octavo, early 20th-century full red crushed morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, all edges gilt. $4500.
Early and first editions in book form of Combe's three-volume parody (First Tour third edition, Second and Third Tours first editions), profusely illustrated with two vignette title pages and 78 fine hand-colored aquatints by Rowlandson. Together with a second edition of Poetical Sketches of Scarborough, with a further 21 hand-colored aquatints, the four volumes uniformly and beautifully bound by Riviere & Son in full morocco-gilt.
This famous illustrated work is a parody of the popular books of picturesque travels of the day and Rowlandson's illustrations "catch the spirit of Regency England in a lively blend of sentiment, realism, local atmosphere and occasional unexpected delicacy of feeling or character" (Harthan, 176). For many of his books, Rowlandson etched the plates himself, and hand-tinted a set of proofs as models for the publisher's colorists. The misadventures of the elderly pedant Dr. Syntax "gave Rowlandson ample scope for the comic designs of which he was a master… No graphic artist has surpassed Rowlandson in presenting the patterned activity of day-to-day communal existence… He was equally at home realizing in line the characters of a classic novel… and the three books which deal with Syntax were his greatest success as an illustrator" (Ray, 26-27, 34). First Tour third edition, issued one year after the first. Second Tour first edition; Plate 15 in the second state, with "Skimerton" corrected to "Skimmington." Third Tour first edition. Scarborough second edition, issued the same year as the first, with Dedication and Contents appearing for the first time. Tooley 427-29, 423. Bookplates, owner signatures.
Plates clean and fine, hand-coloring vivid. A beautifully bound set of this illustrated classic in fine condition.