One of the most important albums of drawings by the celebrated 18th century caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson, Comparative Anatomy Resemblances between the Countenances of Men and Beasts (1822), sold for an outstanding £57,600 in a Dreweatts & Bloomsbury’s auction, The Library of a Gentleman, Thursday 7th November. It had been estimated at £10,000-15,000.
The album of drawings and watercolours is one of only three known complete albums, and the only one in private hands. The other two are housed in the British Library and the Houghton Library respectively. These albums, alongside numerous other loose studies in various collections, most notably in the Courtauld Institute of Art, show the interest Rowlandson had in the scientific developments of physiognomy and comparative anatomy, and how his humorous engagement with contemporary scientific thought influenced his drawings and watercolours [Lot 317].
An exceptional work of colour plates and caricatures, George Moutard Woodward's The Caricature Magazine, or Hudibrastic Mirror, was another highlight of the sale. This extremely rare complete set of humorous and satirical caricatures comprised 385 plates and was in excellent condition. It realised £37,200. [Lot 271]
The Attorney-General's Charges Against the late Queen , another rare collection of caricatures this time aimed at Queen Caroline, included 49 hand-coloured etched plates by Theodore Lane with contributions from brothers George and Robert Cruikshank. No copies were listed on COPAC, the national, academic and specialist library catalogue. This collection achieved £22,320. [Lot 42]
Two lots by William Heath were particularly sought after, generating much pre-sale interest and a buzz in the saleroom. Theatrical Characters [lot 198] and Household Servants [lot 199], were two lots of rare suites of plates which realised £5,952 and £8,680 respectively.
Every single item sold and many realised exceptional prices, up to two or three times higher than estimate.
Auctioneer, and Deputy Chairman, Rupert Powell said: “"We were all delighted with the result of the sale. It was testament to a collection of rare and desirable books, fresh to the market and in prime condition, put together over a number of years by a collector with taste and a very good eye."