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Smithfield sharpers

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Smithfield sharpers
  • Description

    Seven men (three-quarter length) are grouped round a card-table in a Smithfield tavern. One (right), young and innocent, inspects his cards; beside him an older countryman lies back asleep (right), his dog resting his head on his knee. The other gambler (left), holding his cards, looks at his victim. Three onlookers have crafty expressions. A fat man, smoking, approaches with a bowl of punch. In the bar (left) a fat woman chalks up a score. Coins, a watch, and pocket-book are on the table. A broken mirror and a picture of a horse decorate the walls. Beneath the table are twelve lines describing the sleep of 'Old Trusty' while his son is cheated by 'the Harpy-Tribe',

    'By forcing liquor, winking, nodding.' c.1787
    Hand-coloured etching and engraving


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1787
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 300 millimetres
    • Width: 412 millimetres (cut)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered: 'Painted, by T. Rowlandson / Etch'd by I. K. Sherwin [c. 1787]'
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VII, 1942)
    The original was exhibited at the R.A. in 1787, under the title of 'Countryman and Sharpers' (R.A. Catalogue). The card-playing sharper is a portrait of Rowlandson, the country lad is reputed to be J. K. Sherwin; though this seems unlikely, since Sherwin was then thirty-six, the identification is supported by the self-portrait of the engraver.
    In 'The Gamesters', a mezzotint by Ward, after Peters, 1786, the card-sharper holding an ace behind his back is Rowlandson [Said to be the Prince of Wales, according to Challoner Smith (iv. 1485).]; the resemblance to the card-player in this plate, and in a mezzotint, 'A Game at Cribbage', [Photograph in Print Room from A. de R. Coll. (xii. 142).] is convincing.
    Grego, 'Rowlandson', i. 46.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 9672 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat).  c.1787  Hand-coloured etching and engraving


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). c.1787 Hand-coloured etching and engraving

Image description



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Object reference number: PPA79883

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