- Museum number
Object: Higlers cart
Series: A new book of horses and carriages | The Rhedarium
A covered cart yoked to two blinkered horses, a man climbing up on a ladder at the back of the cart at right.
Etching with stipple
- Production date
- 1784 (c.)
Height: 106 millimetres
Width: 181 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The OED defines a higgler or higler, in one sense, as 'an itinerant dealer; esp. a carrier or a huckster who buys up poultry and dairy produce, and supplies in exchange petty commodities from the shops in town'.
One of a series of nine prints in varying sizes of carts and carriages, with the title, 'A new book of Horses and Carriages. The Rhedarium, for the Sale of all sorts of Carriages, by Gregory Gigg', published by E Jackson in 1784; the BM has an incomplete set without the titlepage, see also 1870,1008.2847-2850, 2853-2854 and 2015,7088.1. See also 1938,0221.1, perhaps from the same series but here published by JR Smith. A proof of the titlepage before letters and with some of the figures touched in wash is in the Ashmolean (Douce collection).
Grego lists seven plates from the Rhedarium for 1784: Miller's Waggon; A Timber Waggon; Country Cart Horses; Dray Horses, Draymen and Maltsters; Higgler's (sic) Carts; A Post-Chaise; A Cabriolet. Brewer's Drays is listed later (1788) (p. 187); there is also a completely different print with the same title, published by Harris in 1787, illustrated at p. 213.
Grolier lists 'Nine plates (including title page) by Rowlandson coloured, all signed except the last, a coach without horses, Three have titles A Hack; Brewer's drays; Millers Waggon'. Oblong Quarto, no letterpress.
The Yale Center for British Art has a copy which lists eight plates: A Hack; Loading a Timber Waggon; Brewer's Drays; A Gig (i.e. 'A Cabriolet'); A Cart loaded with sacks (i.e. Country Cart Horses); Drawmen & Empty cart (i.e. Dray Horses, Draymen & Maltsters); Millers Waggons; a Coach (i.e. 'a Postchaise').
M. & J. Payne note, 'It was at just this time that the Stables of the Life Guards in a square off Park Street Mayfair were converted by Murdoch Mackenzie into workshops and showrooms for carriages, which he called the 'Rhedarium'. It seems likely that Rowlandson's title was derived from this business: survey of London vol. XI pp 185-7' ('Regarding Thomas Rowlandson, 1757-1827' (London, 2010), p. 360 n. 6). See Mackenzie's trade-card in the BM, D,2.4155). The name derived from the Latin 'rheda', a carriage.
The title of the series came from a song called 'Sir Gregory Gigg or, the City Beau' written by John O'Keefe for his play 'The Son in Law' (Payne, 2010, p. 82). A picture by Henry Bunbury of the fictional knight, whipping energetically from the driving seat of a gig, had been published by John Raphael Smith in 1782.
A number of Rowlandson's early prints show a fascination with carts and carriages of all sorts. As well as the Rhedarium there are prints published by J. Harris (see for example 1871,0812.3575, 3576). Research by Matthew and James Payne may help explain this preoccupation. Rowlandson's mother, Mary, was the daughter of William Chapman (d. 1756), a coach builder of Bishopsgate, and Master of the Coach and Coach Harness Makers' Company in 1752. Chapman was apprenticed to Benjamin Nolton the London master builder before setting up his own successful business in Wormwood Street by London Wall. He invented a new steering mechanism for chaises and in July 1728 was awarded 'Royal Letters Patent' giving him fourteen years exclusive use of the invention (see M. & J. Payne, 2010, and M. Payne, 'The explosion of Rowlandson's brother', 'Burlington Magazine' CXLVII (2005)).
Additional lit.: 'Catalogue of Books illustrated by Thomas Rowlandson exhibited at the Grolier Club' (New York, 1916), p. 3.
E.R. Gee, 'Catalogue of a remarkable collection of the work of Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)' (New York, 1920), p. 10, cat. no. 2.
B. Falk, 'Thomas Rowlandson: his life and art. A documentary record' (London, 1949), p. 210.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number