Special Collections & Archives



A Tour in Search of Doctor Syntax

December 2012 - February 2013

A hybrid character of caricature and comic verse created by Thomas Rowlandson and William Combe, Doctor Syntax outlived his creators and enjoyed long-lasting popularity.

The Tour of Doctor Syntax in Search of the Picturesque was published in 1812 by the art dealer, stationer and innovator Rudolph Ackermann. With a taste for artistic prints which included work by Isaac Cruikshank, George Sauley and George Woodward, Ackermann enjoyed the social satire popular in the Georgian age. Many of Rowlandson's Syntax prints had already been published by Ackermann in his Poetical Magazine, but the addition of Combe's text breathed new life into the character.

The tale was woven around the prints and proved so popular that not only were two more Syntax adventures published by the aging trio, but several spin-offs and pirated editions were spawned. The character of Syntax lived a long and varied life beyond his creators, including a plethora of ceramic ware, a successful racehorse and an appearance in Victorian pantomime.

This exhibition has been curated by the British Cartoon Archive and Dr. James Baker (School of History, UoK) from a collection of materials related to Thomas Rowlandson which was donated to the Archive in 2011 by Derek Schartau.

The exhibition will run in the Templeman Library Gallery until February 2013. For more information on all of the British Cartoon Archive's collections, please visit the website.

Dr Syntax in a lake

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Last Updated: 28/11/2012