The Library's collection was acquired through the generous gift of drawings and illustrated books by Rowlandson made to the Library by Albert H. Wiggin in 1941 and the subsequent purchases of single sheet prints made during the 1970s. The concept for the exhibition and its development were the work of the students in the Tufts University Museum Studies Program, a collaborative program of the Tufts departments of art history, education, and history that trains students in preservation, administrative, and educational skills. The project of the students in the Exhibition Planning Class during the 2005 spring semester was to review and research the Library's holdings by Rowlandson, develop a concept for an exhibition, and implement it. The result of their dedicated efforts was Humor & Humanity: Through the Eyes of Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)
, which was shown in the Library?s Wiggin Gallery during May 2005, the first time that selections by Rowlandson had been exhibited there in 32 years. As seen at Hamilton, the original Boston Public Library exhibition is supplemented by holdings of the Emerson Gallery.
Thomas Rowlandson was a leading social critic of contemporary British society, using his exceptional talent to reflect on and poke fun at his times. Professionally trained at the Royal Academy, Rowlandson traveled extensively, especially throughout England, recording the inequalities, foibles and manners of everyday life. His work illustrates an amazing blend of humor and humanity that is relevant today and is still often found in the work of social and political illustration. Through Rowlandson's eyes we are able to see the universal nature of the human condition.
The scheduling of this Emerson Gallery show was in large part the result of the energy and enthusiasm of Thomas Booth '06, a senior studio art and government major who has been the college newspaper's cartoonist for his four years at Hamilton. The Emerson Gallery is pleased to present Humor & Humanity
and to play a supporting role in the early April Political Illustration and Cartooning Symposium