[Twelfth Night Characters] by [ROWLANDSON, Thomas (1756-1827)]

[Twelfth Night Characters] by [ROWLANDSON, Thomas (1756-1827)] < >
  • Another image of [Twelfth Night Characters] by [ROWLANDSON, Thomas (1756-1827)]
  • Another image of [Twelfth Night Characters] by [ROWLANDSON, Thomas (1756-1827)]
  • Another image of [Twelfth Night Characters] by [ROWLANDSON, Thomas (1756-1827)]
Rare, being intended as invitations to Regency Twelfth Night Parties

[Twelfth Night Characters]

[London : Thomas Tegg, 1811]. 12mo., [190x60mm] A set of 24 hand-coloured etchings, each titled at head and with 4-line verse below, no imprint, mounted on card, bound in 19/20th century red morocco, 2-line fillet borders, central panel of dots enclosing a 2-line fillet with floral cornerpieces, central arabesque lozenge of daisies, tulips, urns and lyres in gilt, spine fully gilt with title direct to spine in second compartment, a.e.g., a fine miniature binding.

A charming and very rare set of cards relating to the Regency celebration of Twelfth Night held on 6th January to mark Epiphany.We have traced a total of five copies in American libraries and a copy in a recent sale at Forum Auctions, all of which give a complete list of characters (King -- Queen -- Lord Flutter -- Lady Careless -- Sir Timy. Spruce -- Miss Busy -- Lord Zealous -- Lady Flutter -- Jemmy Dazzle -- Miss Sparkle -- Sir Simon Solid -- Mr. Nimble -- Dolly Diligent -- Lady Peaceable -- Capn. Dash -- Lady Lydia Blaze -- Giles Diligent -- Priscilla Prudent -- Sir Peter Puff -- Major Matchless -- Lady Radiant -- Mrs. Friendly -- Sir Chas. Worthy -- Miss Gadabout) . These were originally printed on one sheet, of which a copy at The Met, New York, shows “Lady Racket” and not “Lady Radiant”. The accompanying explanation states “Once cut into cards, Regency era party-goers could draw these figures out of a hat, then perfom the characters–a host might also send such cards to guests in advance to allow them to prepare suitable costumes. Festivities on January 6th, which is also known as Three Kings' Day or the Feast of the Epiphany, concluded the Christmas season and often included games that disrupted the normal social order; a servant, for example, might be elevated to monarch of the feast. Specially decorated cakes were enjoyed and examples appear here next to the king and queen.
Rowlandson's figures have no obvious connection to Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." Scholars do, however, posit that that play may have first been performed at the end of the Christmas season, and note how the the dramatic shifts of fortune, costume and gender that occur in the plot echo Tudor Twelfth Night revels.” We would only add that the practice of distributing them as invitations must inevitably result in rarity.
Grego, J. Rowlandson the caricaturist, v.2, p. 214 Prideaux, S.T. Aquatint engraving, Appendix E, p. 385 Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession No. 59.533.1464

Stock No: HMF1711
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