Doctor Syntax Assisting at an Instrumental Trio, 1821

Not on Viewexpand_more

Rowlandson's Doctor Syntax

The Tours of Doctor Syntax was an immensely successful series; Rowlandson produced the pictures, which were made into a story by the author William Coombe, who wrote poems to accompany them. Three satirical books were published (1809-21) that follow the hilarious misadventures of a foolish clergyman and schoolmaster, Dr. Syntax, a kind of English Don Quixote. The absurdity of Syntax's character and mishaps incisively mock the customs of the day.

Rowlandson devoted most of his time to magazine and book illustration in the second-half of his career, working primarily for the enterprising publisher, Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834), who printed the Doctor Syntax series. Rowlandson's later activities mark a gradual shift in the caricature genre, when publishers and artists moved away from the production of single, high-quality, expensive prints to the cheaper comical cartoons that were featured in widely distributed magazines. Weeklies like Punch and the Illuminated Magazine were founded in the 1840s and would become a staple of Victorian England. Caricature in this new era served more frequently as illustrated journalism, with cartoons representing an editorial point-of-view, often produced by professional illustrators hired by magazines.

Doctor Syntax Assisting at an Instrumental Trio
Artist Life
1756 - 1827
Accession Number
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.