Dr. Syntax Drawn & Etched by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827).
Amongst the most well known of Thomas Rowlandson’s works were the three ‘Tours’ of Dr. Syntax. All written by William Combe and published by Rudolph Ackermann, the first of these, The Tour of Doctor Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, was published in 1812. This was an amusing but good natured parody of the famous countrywide tours made by the Reverend William Gilpin (1724-1804). Gilpin had, through his many publications and illustrations, developed an artistic style and aesthetic ideal known as the ‘picturesque’.
In his search for the ‘picturesque’, however, the amiable Doctor gets himself into a whole array of awkward and undignified situations including being robbed, chased by an angry bull and falling into a cold lake. Despite these many misadventures he remains undeterred and, with his spirits still intact, manages to finish his tour.
The popularity and success of the first ‘Tour’ saw the publication of two additional tours: Dr Syntax in Search of Consolation’and Dr Syntax in Search of a Wife, published in 1820 and 1821 respectively.