- Museum number
- Object: Exhibition Stare Case
Visitors to the Royal Academy struggle up and down the steeply curving staircase of Somerset House. On the lower steps stout ladies fall headlong: the uppermost, who is seemingly the cause of the catastrophe, treads on a dog; one falls head-first over the balustrade, one falls on top of a man, who has been hurled down; one lies at the bottom, being picked up by a man. The wild display of bare legs, causing delight to the spectators, standing at the base of the stairs and on the staircase, is a motif of the design. The spectators standing on the right include a delighted oriental in a turban. The figures recede in perspective as they approach the top of the extravagantly steep staircase, where they are fighting to push their way up or down. On the stairs lies a 'Catalix . . Discriptive'. There is an architectural background showing part of the dome, below which is a frieze in bas-relief—a Venus drawn by nymphs and satyrs—and on the wall in a niche a statue of a nymph disrobing.
- Production date
- 1811 (?)
Height: 484 millimetres
Width: 317 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
The original drawing in pen and wash, styled 'A Soirée at the Royal Academy', is reproduced by the Vasari Society, 2nd s. Pt. iii, No. 19. This has been altered and vulgarized in the etching, which has lost some of the freedom, expressiveness, and gusto of the drawing, where a man takes the place of the woman falling over a dog; most of the architectural detail is absent. In the niche, in place of the nymph, is an urn. (15 3/4 x 10 5/8 in.)
A watercolour (19 x 11 3/4 in.) corresponding to the engraving was exhibited at Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1936-7, from the collection of Mr. Minto Wilson. Figures are identified in the Catalogue as Lady Buckinghamshire, Rowlandson, Nollekens (with a crutch), and Sir Joseph Banks. Wilson's watercolour is now in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (B1981.25.2893).
Another state is in the collection of Mr. Minto Wilson.
Grego, 'Rowlandson', ii. 217 f. (reproduction).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1989/90 Nov-Jan, Glasgow Mus & AG, World of Thomas Rowlandson
1990 Jan-Mar, Leicester City AG, World of Thomas Rowlandson
1990/1 Nov-Jan, Maidstone Museum, World of Thomas Rowlandson
1991 Jan-Mar, Swansea, Glynn Vivian AG, World of Thomas Rowlandson
2012/13 Oct-Jan, Madrid, Fundacion Juan March, Treasure Island
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number